In “Hands,” Sherwood Anderson made a strong statement about intolerance by offering the reader an insight into Wing Biddlebaum and how an antipathy such as homophobia affected his life so negatively. When a feebleminded schoolboy whom Adolph Myers taught naïvely relays his dreams about terrible things Myers had done to him as reality, a man of the town comes for Myers, roaring “I’ll teach you to put your hands on my boy, you beast” (Anderson 57). Adolph Myers, who is described by Anderson as little and gentle, is in no way a ‘beast’ nor did he deserve to be beaten so severely by the saloon keeper. Since the townspeople would rather believe the schoolboy than Myers, they accuse Myers of being a pedophile, and a gay one at that. Although there is no solid evidence that he is homosexual, the “half-witted boy of the school became enamored of the young master. In his bed at night he imagined unspeakable things and in the morning went forth to tell his dreams as facts. Strange, hideous accusations fell from his loose-hung lips. Throu...
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..., Anderson refers to Wing’s hands as “the hands” rather than “his hands” twelve times. By doing so, there is a subtle implication that Wing’s hands are sentient and that Wing has no control over them. Wing Biddlebaum’s hand movements are a coping mechanism to help him release the stress he constantly endures due to his PTSD.
Wing Biddlebaum lives alone as an aged berry picker with “flappy hands” in Winesburg, Ohio, who has PTSD due to being constantly tormented by a previous life plagued with homophobia and intolerance. Wing wants to reach out to somebody, to trust, to truly express himself, but he cannot because of prejudice in the community and era he lives in. Wing Biddlebaum’s fidgety hands serve as a manifestation of the perpetual pain he endures for which there is no cure, no matter how hard he wishes he could stop and live life normally again as Adolph Myers.
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