A few family members visited for the Fourth of July, but they are gone now and the festivities, for which Jennie made all the arrangements, are over. The narrator is tired and depressed, she cries ‘most of the time’ when she is alone, although she stops when John is home. He has suggested that he may have to send her to Weir Mitchell, another doctor, in the fall.
Jennie continues to perform the domestic duties of the narrator, increasing the narrator’s sense of guilt. She now hides her emotions from John, masking her inner life and making communication impossible. Weir Mitchell is the real life champion of the ‘rest cure’ that is being enforced on the narrator, and was the actual doctor who treated Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the author of this story.
While John is away, the narrator walks in the garden or lies in her room, staring at the wallpaper. She feels determined to find some sort of rhyme or reason behind its ‘pointless pattern.’ She goes on at length about its incomprehensible shapes, ‘great slanting waves of optic horror.’ The pattern also changes with the light of the day as she lies in bed watching it. Following its ‘interminable grotesques’ tires her, so she ends her diary entry to take a nap.
The narrator’s obsession grows in her enforced idle isolation, and her need to make sense of the wallpaper is a symbol both for her inability to interpret or express her own inner life and her need for her mind to be creative and active in at least some way. The narrator’s attempts to interpret the wallpaper also mirror the reader’s attempts to interpret the narrator’s diary entries.