Internet Assignment Essay

The Theme That Lies Within

(The Theme That Lies Within INTERNET ASSIGNMENT)

Andrea is a successful woman who is married to a successful man, and like many marriages, Andrea’s marriage has secrets. These secrets are not all visible to the outside world. Andrea’s marriage, personal life, the bowl, and even the title of the story are all important aspects that highlight the inner theme of “Janus” by Ann Beattie. In reading the story, and learning about the life of Andrea, it is evident that a theme of a double identity, and life happiness is persistent within the story.

The main symbol within the story is the bowl. The bowl in many ways is a lot like the character of Andrea. The bowl is mysterious throughout the whole beginning, and even continuing through the end of the story. Even Andrea herself does not understand her obsession with the bowl “ The bowl was mysterious, even to her” (208, Beattie). Andrea is a very mysterious character; it could be argued that she is the most mysterious to herself. Andrea is definitely not a character that gives the impression of knowing herself well, or understanding her actions.

The bowl is empty, it is a half of a circle, and for the most part it is plain creamy- white in colour, but with subtle flecks of colour. The bowl was not perfect in its appearance yet it attracts many. Perhaps this is what Andrea longs for in her life, an acceptance of her lack of perfection or the willingness to admit her imperfections. The bowl isn’t just some random decorative bowl, and it certainly is not a precious family heirloom. One thing is certain, if “ The bowl was just a bowl. She did not believe that for one second” (208, Beattie). It is as if Andrea needs the bowl to feel secure and to continue living in her double life. “ She did not think beyond that- to what her life would be without the bowl. She only feared that some accident would happen” (209, Beattie). Andrea was afraid to lose the bowl or in another light, to lose her secret identity and double life. Her lover gave the bowl to her; her husband did not know this, of course. Andrea would never tell her husband about her obsession with the bowl, and the power she had felt from  it. And so, her secret will be kept, and her double life will continue.

A side from the bowl he first important symbol of the story introduced even before the bowl is the title of the story. In ancient Roman Myths “Janus” is the god of new beginnings and transitions. And just as her lover describes Andrea, Janus the ancient roman god is said to be two-faced. Just as Andrea seems to have these two separate identities, Janus literally has two separate identities. And so, the theme of identity and two spate lives prevails, even in the title.

In continuing the theme of double identity and happiness in living a double life, Andrea’s marriage and personal life provide contrast for one another. In Andrea’s marriage she plays the role of a successful woman married to a successful man. It is no surprise with the career, and financial success within the marriage there is an inevitable emptiness between the spouses. The abundant success in their careers seems to have left the marriage distant and empty. As a result of this emptiness it again, is no surprise that there is a romantic affair in the mix of Andrea’s life. Although Andrea’s lover removes him self from the picture that is Andrea’s life, she continues to live her double life. She does this by keeping and admiring her lover’s last gift: the bowl. As Andrea obsesses and idolizes the bowl even the feeling and good luck bowl that come with the bowl are hidden from her husband.

Life in general holds the common theme of the pursuit of happiness, which is beyond true within “Janus”. Within this pursuit there are things that people say and do to achieve said happiness. Andrea continues to choose to fill her void with people and possessions, and lives life believing “she could have it both ways” (209, Beattie). Andrea could not imagine life without her bowl. “She did not think beyond that- to what her life would be without the bowl” (209, Beattie). Her life was not fulfilled with just her husband, so she required a lover. When her lover had left the bowl had to fill her void. The bowl had become her second life.

The story of “Janus” tells the story of emptiness, and the mysterious journey to Andrea’s happiness with her double identity. It is evident that Andrea did not feel secure and whole within her marriage. However perhaps it is not the man who is the problem, but marriage is not enough for her, hence the lover. The refusing of leaving her husband to be solely with the lover shows that it is her need for having life both ways. “ When she would not decide in his favor, would not change her life and come to him, he asked her what made her think she could have it both ways” (209, Beattie). Andrea chooses and thrives in a life that is lived two-faced. “Janus” is dripping with the theme of a double life and the happiness that Andrea pursues or ironically rather the emptiness in the mystery in her lives she makes an effort to maintain.

 Work Cited

“”Janus” by Ann Beattie.” The Norton Introduction to Fiction. Ed. Jerome Beatty. 6th ed. New York: Norton, 1996. 206-210. Print.

“Janus.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Wikipedia Foundation. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.


English 222 Internet Assignment Work Cited

Work Cited

“”Janus” by Ann Beattie.” The Norton Introduction to Fiction. Ed. Jerome Beaty. 6th ed. New York: Norton, 1996. 206-210. Print.

Websites used:

“Things Ann Beattie Said.” Terra Elan RSS. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Janus.” Goodreads. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <;.

Beattie, Ann. “Janus.” Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Janus.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 5 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Janus.” – Livius. Web. 5 Apr. 2015. <;.

“How to Frustrate Your Character in Every Scene.” San Diego Professional Writers Group. 18 June 2011. Web. 5 Apr. 2015. <;.

Discussion Questions

1. What is the possible symbolism of the bowl?

2. Why or Why not is the character of Andrea’s lover important or crucial to the story?

3. Apart from the bowl are there any other symbols is the story?

4. discuss and construct a possible plot curve for the story, what is the climax, is there more than one?

5.  Does the character of Andrea evolve in the the story at all? if so explain.

Supplementary Material

If you have yet to read “Janus” here is a PDF I have found for you.

After reading “Janus” by Anne Beattie, i began to wondering the mean of the title of the story. I was unsatisfied with the fact that the title name never clicked as a read through the story. so, naturally I Googled it. Here is what I found ( Yes it is the information from Wikipedia so if that doesn’t sit right with you here is another resource I found). Both of these resources helped me put the pieces together. I loved the hidden meaning within the title, that I actually had to search for. It was as if the title is as mysterious as the bowl.

fun fact ( mostly about me, but it relates to the story):

I have actually taken a ceramics class, in which my major project was making and constructing bowls. There was a specific bowl I had recently made that I constantly pictured as Andrea’s bowl as I was reading the story. I hope no adulterous lovers buys one of my bowls for a gift … just kidding! I will take anyone’s money.


Plot Summary And Plot Curve Of “Janus” By Ann Beattie

Plot Summary:


“Janus” is the story of Andrea a real estate agent, who is unhappy in her life, and marriage. However Andrea has one thing in her life that seems to be the source of any happiness she possesses. That item is her bowl. The bowl becomes a strategic tool, within her career. Andrea uses this bowl to gain and maintain her success in selling houses. It is not too far into the story that it becomes apparent that the bowl is much more than just a bowl or a decorative peace, to Andrea. The bowl has an obvious symbolic meaning. As Andrea is married to a successful stockbroker who seems to be a decent man, it becomes clear that the marriage is unfulfilling. The origin of the mysterious and beloved bowl is revealed at the end of the story where we learn about Andrea’s lover. Andrea’s lover had bought her the bowl at a craft fair they had attended together, shortly before he left her due to her “two-faced” life.



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Beginning: The bowl is the first thing actually introduced in the story. The bowl is introduced as Andrea’s key to success.

Rising action: Andrea becomes even more successful because of her use of the bowl; she thinks about tell her husband about the bowl. The bowl is a huge secret and she is guilty for keeping the secret from her husband. This seems odd because it is just a bowl, why would you feel guilty about not telling your husband about a bowl?

Climax: The origin of the bowl is revealed. Andrea had been having an affair. Andrea’s lover had bought the bowl for Andrea as a gift; he had bought her many gifts. The affair ends shortly after the purchase of the bowl.

Falling action: Andrea never does tell her husband about the bowl; instead she continues to be “two- faced” and live her double life mysteriously admiring the bowl.




Setting, Point Of View , And The Time Line Of “Janus” By Ann Beattie


The story takes place in the everyday life of Andrea, the story is told in within her career, marriage, love life, and personal life (time spent alone). The concrete settings of the story would include: the craft fair, the open houses she hosts for clients, and at home.

Point of view:

Andrea is not the narrator, but the story is narrated in third- person point of view. The story is told about the character of Andrea in the perspective of a third party.


 Here is a chronologically ordered time line to better understand the story with the point of view, and many settings:


  1. Andrea is a successful real estate agent, married to a successful stockbroker. Andrea lives at home with her husband and their dog Mondo.
  2. Andrea attends a craft fair/ market with her lover where she sees a bowl that peeks her interest, but she doesn’t buy it.
  3. Her lover buys her the bowl, because he saw how much she had admired it.
  4. Andrea accepts the gift of the bowl, and it become one her most prized possessions.
  5. At some point Andrea’s lover leaves her because Andrea will not choose to leave her husband. Her lover says, “she was always to slow to know what she really loved. Why continue with her life the way it was? Why be two- faced, he asked her” (209, Beattie)
  6. Andrea continues to admire her bowl in spite of her “breakup”.
  7. Andrea’s husband sees the bowl, and is pleased that she has bought something she likes. He calls the bowl pretty, but doesn’t pay too much attention to it.
  8. Andrea begins to bring the bowls to her open houses as part of strategies, just how she uses her dog.
  9. The bowl turns into Andrea’s good-luck charm.
  10. Andrea becomes obsessive and possessive with the bowl, not being able to do her job without it. The bowl becomes her sense of confidence, and she attributes much of her success in real estate to her bowl.
  11. The bowl becomes her greatest secret and anxiety both within her marriage and in her career. However the secret is more prominent in her marriage.
  12. The anxiety about the bowl breaking starts to consume her. (This is symbolic of her anxiety within her personal life and marriage, even in her career).