Anne PetryPressure from the Women In “Like a Winding Sheet” Anne Petry choosesnot to fully develop the female characters of the story but still used them as amajor part of the story to bring on the climax. Petry chose to do this by usingeach woman’s appearance and in some cases their rank in society to bring out theviolent doings of Johnson. Petry first used Johnson’s boss as a crisis in theplot.
Johnson was described as a man in pain and being tired which is assumed bythe reader was from working the long hours at work. After repeatedly being lateto work his boss finally scolds him for arriving so late, making her the firstlady to start the conflict in the story. By Johnson’s boss yelling at him hebecomes angered as thoughts of striking his white, female boss enter his mind.The only things that keeps Johnson from hitting the boss was that it wasextremely immoral to hit a woman, and the fact that she is a superior to him ashis boss. The second woman in the story to create a complication in the storywas the next young white girl who is working at the coffee shop. On his way homefrom work Johnson stopped at the coffee shop for the obvious cup of coffee.Johnson had waited in line for quite a while for the cup of coffee but when hefinally got to the front for his coffee, the young white girl said that theywere out of coffee.
When she told Johnson this he didn’t think that she did itin a polite manner at all. Johnson thought that he deserved more respect due tohim being an elder to the girl, he felt that the girl didn’t show this respect.Once again Johnson had thoughts of striking the young girl but for moralityreasons, he refrained. The final woman was the one that pushed the story to its’climax.
Johnson returned home a very tired and aggravated man from working andthe disrespectful women through out the day. This woman happened to be his wifeMae, waiting for Johnson at home. Mae verbally abused him similarly to what hisboss had done. His wife told him that he was being a “tough oldnigger,” and continued with similar statements.
Although her meaning of theterm wasn’t as serious as the bosses was, it still added to Johnson’s pressure.Once again the thoughts of raising a hand and striking the woman passed throughhis mind. This time Johnson couldn’t refrain from striking his”abuser.” Although the person was again a woman, the pressure on theman had been too much, and he released all of his pressure. All the womenthroughout the day contributed to the pressure that the man had building insidewhich finally became too much for Johnson to contain.