A basic summary of "The Painted Door" by Sinclair Ross is a woman commits adultery due to her husband's absence. This short story focuses on love, abandonment, impulse and betrayal. Although the painted door plays only a minor part in the story, the act of painting the front door symbolizes the main character's later attempts to cover up the fact that she has been unfaithful.
"The Painted Door" is set in the 1800s in a rural farming community. The story opens with a couple at home preparing for a major snow storm. During the preparation, Anne's husband, John, decides to visit his father's nearby farm to help him with any necessary preparations. Although Anne objects to being left alone, she silently accepts her husband's decision. During this part of the story, there are subtle hints that indicate it is common for Anne's husband to leave her and that Anne often feels lonely.
To pass the time, Anne decides to paint her front door. Some time later, a neighbor named Stephen arrives to help her with household chores. However, the two soon end up sleeping with one another. In the morning, Anne realizes how she has harmed her marriage and regrets her actions. However, at the same time, she longs for the companionship Stephen provides.