The Bath

by

Janet Frame

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Themes and Colors
Loneliness and Death Theme Icon
Struggle and Old Age Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Social Class Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Bath, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Loneliness and Death

In “The Bath,” an elderly woman struggles to get herself out of the bathtub. As she fails to pull herself out and then panics that she’ll remain trapped there, she reflects on how alone she is: her husband is dead, and when she screams for help, nobody can hear her. She can only rely on herself, even though her body is failing. The woman does have some people in her life, but they seem…

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Struggle and Old Age

The woman in “The Bath” has gotten to an age where even simple things are a struggle: she has trouble reaching items on a high shelf, filling the coal bucket, looking at the sky, hanging laundry on the line, changing buses, stoking the fire, and of course, getting in and out of the bath. While her body would once obey her easily, now it’s an “inner menace”; her back, shoulder, and wrists are bad…

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Life, Death, and Social Class

At the end of “The Bath,” while the woman is at the cemetery tending her husband’s grave, the story introduces a twist: the woman’s parents are also buried in this cemetery, but their grave is much grander than his. Their enormous grave reveals the “elaborate station of their life”—essentially, that they were rich—while the husband’s small grave reflects his humble social position. This revelation casts the woman’s actions in a new light. While her…

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