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Essay on Fading Away in Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio

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    The final sentence of Winesburg, Ohio imprints the image of the town fading away as George Willard departs for the city. In fact, to view the novel in larger units, the final chapter is conspicuously named "Departure," and for any reader who bothers to take in the table of contents page before starting the book it is fairly easy to deduce how Winesburg, Ohio will end before it even begins. The notion of escape from the town of Winesburg is common throughout the book, and the intended destination for escape is usually some undefined "city." As a recurring element, however, it fits into a broader theme of the novel, that of a need for change in general. The two means through which change can occur can be classified as outburst and escape, with each occupying slightly different niches in the novel. Escape, being the culminating event of the novel, is clearly given prominence. But examination reveals that flight to the city is a largely flawed notion which is idealized by many but yields results which are actually embittering and not much better, empirically, than life in Winesburg. Outburst actually serves as a slightly more successful outlet for the anxieties of Winesburg's citizens.

 

Outburst in Winesburg, Ohio can be defined as any of the many actions which happen suddenly and often rather spontaneously, undertaken by the adults of Winesburg. Prime examples include Alice Hindman running naked through the streets in "Adventure," Kate Swift passionately embracing George Willard and then bursting out of the room in "The Teacher," and the explosive series of events on the final night in "The Strength of God."

 

Escape needs little explanation‹flight from Winesburg occurs at the end of th...


... middle of paper ...


...derson gives it such a damning portrayal through the stories of those who have lived there. Outburst within the limits of Winesburg is not better by much, but it does possess certain superior qualities as a release than escape, and these advantages are, in fact, borne out for the characters in the book.

 

Works Cited and Consulted

Anderson, David D. "Sherwood Anderson's Moments of Insight." Critical Essays on Sherwood Anderson. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1981. 155-170.

Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. New York: Norton, 1996.

Burbank, Rex. Sherwood Anderson. New Haven: Twayne, 1964.

Walcutt, Charles Child. "Sherwood Anderson: Impressionism and the Buried Life." The Achievement of Sherwood Anderson. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966. 158-170.

White, Ray Lewis. Winesburg, Ohio: An Exploration. Boston: Twayne, 1990.


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