The Painted Door

Steven Character Analysis

Steven is Ann and John’s friend and neighbor. Ann and John both enjoy Steven’s company—they see him fairly often for a game of cards or a shared meal. Ann describes him as young, good-looking, sociable, and altogether very different from her hulking, silent husband. It is at John’s suggestion that Steven comes over to keep Ann company while John is away for the day. When he arrives, Steven seems very confident, even arrogant, and initiates a subtle flirtation with Ann. He seems to be aware that she is frustrated and lonely, and successfully convinces her that the blizzard outside will keep John away for the night. Steven is presented as a reflection of Ann’s desires, always in contrast to John. Steven never directly states that he wants to sleep with Ann, and he expresses no anxiety or guilt around their transgression. Although he is the catalyst for the action which destroys their marriage, it is the tension between John and Ann’s personalities and desires which drive the events of the story.

Steven Quotes in The Painted Door

The The Painted Door quotes below are all either spoken by Steven or refer to Steven. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dell Books edition of The Painted Door published in 1980.
The Painted Door Quotes

She stood at the stove motionless a moment, then turned to him uneasily. “Will you shave then, John—now—before you go?”
He glanced at her questioningly, and avoiding his eyes she tried to explain, “I mean—he may be here before you’re back—and you won’t have a chance then.”
“But it’s only Steven—he’s seen me like this—”
“He’ll be shaved, though—that’s what I mean—and I’d like you to spend a little time on yourself.”
He stood up, stroking the heavy stubble on his chin. “Maybe I should—only it softens up the skin too much. Especially when I’ve got to face the wind.”

Related Characters: Ann (speaker), John (speaker), Steven
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

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“It’s better with four, but at least we can talk. That’s all I need—someone to talk to. John never talks. He’s stronger—he doesn’t understand. But he likes Steven—no matter what the neighbors say. Maybe he’ll have him come again, and some other young people, too. It’s what we need, both of us, to help keep young ourselves...And then before we know it we’ll be into March. It’s cold still in March sometimes, but you never mind the same. At least you’re beginning to think about spring.”

Related Characters: Ann (speaker), John, Steven, The Neighbors
Page Number: 99-100
Explanation and Analysis:

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He was erect, tall, square-shouldered. His hair was dark and trim, his lips curved, soft, and full. While John—she made the comparison swiftly—was thick-set, heavy-jowled, and stooped. He always stood before her helpless, a kind of humility and wonderment in his attitude. And Steven now smiled on her appraisingly with the worldly-wise assurance of one for whom a woman holds neither mystery nor illusion.

Related Characters: Ann (speaker), John, Steven
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Looking down at him as he slept, half smiling still, his lips relaxed in the conscienceless complacency of his achievement, she understood that thus he was revealed in his entirety—all there ever was or ever could be. John was the man. With him lay all the future. For tonight, slowly and contritely through the days and years to come, she would try to make amends.

Related Characters: Ann (speaker), John, Steven
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Steven Character Timeline in The Painted Door

The timeline below shows where the character Steven appears in The Painted Door. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Painted Door
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Time and Aging Theme Icon
John says he will stop by their friend Steven’s house on his way and tell Steven to visit Ann. Then when John returns in... (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Ann asks John to shave, if he is going to invite Steven over. She tells him that Steven will have shaved, and that John should spend a... (full context)
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Time and Aging Theme Icon
...better than to set out in this kind of weather. She doubts whether or not Steven will even make the one-mile trip to visit her. (full context)
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Steven then arrives and Ann lets him in. He comments on how shaken and cold she... (full context)
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Ann is surprised to find herself in a flirtatious mood. Steven’s condescension has inspired her to use her femininity in a way that John’s kindness never... (full context)
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Ann comments that John will be home for supper soon. Steven disagrees, saying no man would risk a walk home in a storm like this. Ann... (full context)
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Time and Aging Theme Icon
Ann and Steven play cards, but Ann is distracted and anxious. Steven’s presence and the idea that John... (full context)
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...break in the text, and then the narrator describes Ann lying in bed next to Steven, who is sleeping quietly. She watches the flickering light of the wood-burning stove through the... (full context)
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Time and Aging Theme Icon
...that John will in fact arrive home and discover what she has done. Gazing at Steven’s peaceful, sleeping face, she decides that she is just being paranoid. Ann realizes that Steven... (full context)