Sherwood Anderson’s Expression of Sexuality and Loneliness

Powerful Essays
Living in Ohio for the majority of his life, Sherwood Anderson based many of his stories on city life in Ohio. Anderson’s short stories were influenced by not only his surroundings, but also by his life-shaping events that occurred in his youth. Throughout the stories “Sophistication” and “Hands”, Sherwood Anderson expresses his astute knowledge of loneliness and isolation in relation to the protagonists’ sexuality, while also differentiating the root of these emotions in each character’s lifestyle as he continues through life and overcomes its obstacles.

Throughout his youth, Anderson experienced life-altering events that shaped the basis for many of his stories. In his childhood, Anderson experienced desultory schooling and worked several jobs, including a newsboy, a housepainter, a stable boy, a farmhand, and a laborer in a bicycle factory, many of which are jobs of those in his writing (May, ed. 77). The central psychological event in Anderson’s life occurred in 1912, when he suffered a nervous breakdown. Subsequently he moved to Chicago where he began writing. Here, he also met Dr. Trigant Burrow of Baltimore, who operated a Freudian therapeutic camp in Lake Chateauguay, New York, attended by Anderson the summers of 1915 and 1916 (May, ed. 77). Influenced not only by life events, Anderson’s writings contain clear commonalities, allowing clear comparisons to be made.

Many critics notice the connection between recurring themes such as seclusion and sexuality to differentiate each parallel and topic shown in Anderson’s work. Both stories are from Sherwood Anderson’s book Winesburg, Ohio that is set during the latter part of the 19th century. The stories “catalog Anderson’s negative reaction to the transformation of Ohi...

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...Winesburg, Ohio”.

Sherwood Anderson: Dimensions of His Literary Art. Ed. David D. Anderson. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1976. 41-60. Rpt. In Short Story Criticism. Ed. Jessica Bomarito and Jelena O. Krstovic, Vol. 91. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center. Web. 14 Mar. 2011.

“Sherwood Anderson”. Critical Survey of Short Fiction. Ed. Charles E. May. Vol. 7.

Pasadena: Salem Press, 2001. Print. 76-81.

“Sophistication”. Short Stories for Students. Ed. Suzanne Dewsbury, James Person, and

Aarti Stephens. 27 vols. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Print. 293-302.

Ward, J.A. American Silences: The Realism of James Agee, Walker Evans, and Edward

Hopper. Baton Rouge: Louisianna State University Press, 1985. Print. 46-50.

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

Print. 7-94.
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