Sinclair Ross" tragedy "The Painted House" is set in a small isolated Saskatchewan farmhouse during the 1930's Great Depression. The author's description says it all. "In the clear, bitter light the long white miles of prairie landscape seemed a region strangely alien to life. Even the distant farmsteads she could see served only to intensify a sense of isolation." To make the situation worse, it is the dead of winter and a huge storm is brewing, both the blizzard and the mental turmoil in Ann's mind. The author has taken is a third person, limited omniscient view; as if he is overseeing the situation, delving into Ann's mind, in order to tell the story to his readers.
Ann, the main character, has been married to John for seven years. The author makes it quite clear that she is unable to cope with the isolation, both physical and emotional. This has left her self-centred, lonely, and resentful, and is the cause for the conflict that is evident in the story. She struggles with her desire for affection and companionship, and temporarily finds them in Steven's arms. She feels that she is competing for John's attention with her father-in-law and his work. This is apparent in her comment to John, "It isn't right to leave me here alone. Surely I"m as important as your father." As well, she has asked John to hire someone, but he continually insisted that it was unnecessary. This struggle has left her both critical and resentful of John. In her criticalness, she tells him to shave and to spend a little time on himself, describing him as a big stubborn fool with brute-tired stupid eyes. She resents John for his strong work ethic, one that makes her feel unappreciated. He works hard to pay off the mortgage and provide her with the finer things in life, but she thinks "the only real difference that it all made was to deprive her of his companionship." However, she blames her mood on the weather, believing that it is "the cold that depresses.