Isolation in Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio

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Isolation in Winesburg, Ohio

Winesburg, Ohio is a story of lost or nonexistent connections with other human beings. Every character throughout the text has a want, a need, to connect with someone or something. Each individual faces a life of isolation. In most cases the solitary nature of their lives is self-inflicted. This self-punishment seems to be the outcome of a deeply personal hatred towards the characters' perceived differences with the rest of the Winesburg population. This is the fact that elevates Winesburg, Ohio above the rest. It is the fact that every man hides a part of himself from the eyes of others.

The hunger was earliest demonstrated in the short story Hands. In this episode the main character, Wing Biddlebaum, in forced into isolation due to a traumatic event earlier in his life. Biddlebaum was at one time a teacher in a small Pennsylvania town. He was a man who urged his students to dream, and he happened to communicate this with his hands. Eventually, a young boy, a student of Wing's took the encouragement the wrong way. As a result a wave of rage swept through the small sleepy town. Biddlebaum was beaten for the use of his hands. HE was beaten for the communication of his dreams, and for possessing a special bond with his students. The end result was the empty shell of a man afraid to share, and afraid to connect. The feat instilled within Wing Biddlebaum is best shown in a rare conversation, if that, that he had had with George Willard. Speaking of dreams, "he raised the hands...and then a look of horror swept over his face" (pg. 7 S. Anderson). Wing, communicating with his hands, had been taught to fear any alliance with others. Yet, the hunger and want s...

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...s attempt to communicate this. It was written that Sherwood "approaches the people in his stories as he does the apples, secure in his knowledge that the sources or natures of their deformities are unimportant when compared to their intrinsic worth as human beings needing and deserving understanding" (pg. 1 D. Anderson). It is the need expressed that is demonstrated in all of life, and holds true to the population of Winesburg, Ohio. This is the hunger of life.

Works Cited

Anderson, David. "Sherwood Anderson's Moments of Insight." Critical Studies in

American Literature" A Collection of Essays. Karachi, Pakistan: University of

Karachi, 1964.

Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1995.

Howe, Irving. "The Book of the Grotesque." Sherwood Anderson. New York:

William Sloan Associates, 1957.
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