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MonkeyNotes-Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson-Free Study Guide
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STORY 2 - 'HANDS'

SETTING

The setting is in Winesburg, Ohio, with the main character living in a small farmhouse near the edge of a ravine near the town,

CHARACTER LIST

Wing Biddlebaum - A nervous, timid old man, who uses his hands explicitly whenever, excited.

George Willard - Son of Tom Willard, the proprietor of the New Willard House, George is a reporter on the 'Winesburg Eagle.'

CONFLICT

Protagonist - Wing Biddlebaum is the main character in this story and a detailed analysis of his behavior and psychology has been portrayed.

Antagonist - The antagonists are the heartless, thoughtless citizens of town who wrongly accuse Wing to be a homosexual.


Climax - The climax in the story is the peep into Wing's earlier life, which tells us the reason for Wings reticence and taciturnity. The wrongful accusation thrust on Wing has scarred him for life.

Outcome - We see the introverted behavior of Wing. He, who has been ostracized and publicly humiliated, cannot now bear to show his hands to anybody and always keeps them out of view. Even George's gentle coaxing doesn't help him to reach out of his shell.

THEMES

The main theme of the story is the consequences on a poor man's life, for loving his students and wishing to do good for them. In this story, the author has outlined the theme of the love, which has however been taken out of context and twisted out of shape by the students.

MOOD

The reader feels gloomy and dismayed on reading this story as its depth is well depicted. The pitiful, lonely existence of Wing draws sympathy from the reader.

STORY SUMMARY

Wing Biddlebaum, a fat, little, old man is walking up and down the veranda of his small house, which stood near a ravine, near the town of Winesburg, Ohio. Wing Biddlebaum, while he has lived in this town for twenty years, still does not consider himself a part of it. He is close to only one boy, George Willard, the son of Tom Willard. George is a reporter on the 'Winesburg Eagle' and often spends his time with Biddlebaum. Only with George, would Biddlebaum open up and talk for hours on any subject.

Biddlebaum's hands are very expressive and restless; he always seems to speak through his hands. His hands restless activities, like the beatings of the wings of an imprisoned bird, have earned him his name. In Winesburg, his hands have attracted attention merely because of their activity, and have become a distinguishing feature for his fame.

George is fascinated by Wings's hands and feels that there must a reason to this fascination. One day, both are involved in a deep discussion and Wing is chastising George for letting himself be influenced by people. Wing, who is totally involved now, forgets his hands, and slips them on George's shoulders. He goes on speaking about forgetting all that he has learned, and he begins to dream. And as Wing speaks, his eyes glow and his hands caress George's face. Immediately he realizes what he is doing and with a look of horror, leaves abruptly. George is perplexed but decides to leave the subject of Wing's hands.

But the real story behind his hands is that as a young man, Biddlebaum was a schoolteacher in Pennsylvania, and was known as Adolph Myers. He was a very gentle soul, who ruled by a gentle power. With his boys, he used to be lost as if in a dream. While speaking to them, he would unconsciously caress their tousled heads and stroke their shoulders. Under his hands, all the doubts and disbelief of the youngsters disappeared.

The tragedy struck when a half-witted boy misunderstood his intentions and blurted out his feelings about the caresses. This instigated all the others who began disbelieving his pure intentions. Adolph was driven out of the school and ridiculed.

Thus for twenty years, Adolph lived alone in Winesburg, with his stained past only his secret. He only understood that his poor hands were to blame and so always kept them hidden, away from the prying eyes of the people.

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