“The Bolted Door” tells the story of Granice, a middle-aged playwright that had an unpleasant past. He was broken home, lacking money, and often ill. He then decided to murder his cousin, Joseph Lenman, who was obsessed with watermelons. As a result, he had what he desired—“change, rest, life.”
Eventually, what was fortune to him had become remorse. He was desperate to publicize the truth and cross the great divide. However, he failed to corroborate his confessions that no detective, editor, physician, or lawyer admitted to be persuaded.
This man cannot escape because he does not possess the tools to unbolt ‘the bolted door’. He is stuck in a room of self-condemnation, enveloped by the guilt of the sins he committed. Salvation is on the other side.
Interestingly, Wharton was against the doctrine of the Atonement. Christ’s death is supposed to be the way out of suffering, but the story demonstrates the way into suffering. Wharton did not embrace the theology that alters hardship into hope. She was sensible to the Old Testament—not the New Testament.
I assert that Jesus’ crucifixion is a cold case homicide, like Lenman’s, but perhaps it does not appeal to Wharton that such a sacrifice would restore the problem of pain. Lenman was sacrificed to bring prosperity; nevertheless, it was impermanent.
Wharton implicates that the roads to atonement are barricaded in the contemporary world—the repentant seeks redemption, but merely discovers ‘the bolted door’. Metaphorically, the keys required to unlock it are the empirical evidences of the murder act.
During the Victorian Era, science vs. religion was a prominent issue. Yet, Wharton juxtaposed moral principles and scientific empiricism: the theory of Darwinism annihilates the notion of right and wrong; the doctrines of Christianity maintain the objectivity of good and evil.