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STORY 3 - 'PAPER PILLS'
The story is set in the little town of Winesburg, Ohio. A musty office in the Heffner Block above the Paris Dry Goods Company's store is where Doctor Reefy practices.
List Of Characters
Doctor Reefy - Is an old man with a white bearer who befriends the tall, dark girl and helps her take control over her life.
Tall dark girl - A girl who comes to Doctor Reefy, after a terrible relationship she finds solace in the doctor's company.
Two Suitors - One is a jewelers son and the other a black haired boy.
Protagonist - The two characters have equal importance. The story revolves around their relationship.
Antagonist - The antagonist is the son of the jeweler who talks of virginity to the girl and pushes the girl to marry the other suitor.
Climax - The climax of the story is reached when the girl ends up sleeping with the black - haired boy and getting pregnant.
Outcome - The result of this is for meeting with Doctor Reefy who she finally marries.
The theme of the story is confusion in the feelings of love, of the girl while choosing the right suitor for herself and finally choosing one who derives her away to another man who is the right person for her.
The mood in the beginning is macabre. It seems that she secretly enjoys the sight of her lover gazing at her white body with lustful eyes. Though in the end, the reader feels happy for the odd couple.
The old man, with the white beard, was a doctor, married to a girl with money. Within a year of their marriage, she had died and left him all her money. This old man's knuckles were unnaturally large and looked like unpainted wooden balls.
Doctor Reefy had a strange habit of writing his thoughts on paper and then crumpling the paper into balls. These papers contained his written thoughts. Out of many of these thoughts he would form a truth when this truth grew and clouded the world he would throw it away and begin new with little thoughts.
Doctor Reefy's courtship with the wealthy girl was quite curious. After her parent's death she began to view suitors for marriage and had sorted down to two suitors. These suitors were totally unlike each other. One, a son of a jeweler who only spoke of virginity, while the other said nothing at all but always managed to corner her for a kiss in the darkness.
For a time she thought that she would marry the one who spoke on virginity. But after a while she began detecting a greater lust in him beneath the clothing of his talks. In the meanwhile she got pregnant by the second one. She went to Doctor Reefy for help, and from then onwards, never left him. She lost her unborn baby in an illness, and later on in the fall, she married Doctor Reefy. The doctor used to read to her all this thoughts which were written on those bits of paper which he rolled. She died in the following spring.
This simplistic story of a man and a woman deals also with the innermost layers of human behavior. The marriage of a wealthy, beautiful girl to a nondescript doctor from the unknown town of Winesburg is certainly curious. But her past experience explains her decision.
The first suitor is depicted as a man of words who is vociferous on the subject of virginity. This would otherwise portray him as a man of character and morals, with a pure upbringing. But his constant harping on the subject reveals his inner obsession with the topic, which is far more dangerous and unseemly. The girl even begins to visualize about him staring at her body and biting it with his teeth. Compared to him, the other suitor, who was at least open about his desires, was a better choice.
Finally it is her unwanted pregnancy that takes her to Doctor Reefy. Her meeting with the doctor has been compared to the discovery of the sweetness of twisted apples. These gnarled apples see the ones rejected by the pickers and left on the ground. Their sweetness surpasses that of the perfectly rounded apples. Once the girl had tasted the sweetness of Doctor Reefy and his common life at the Winesburg town, she couldn't bear to taste the sickly sweetness of city life.
The author's interest over hands is repeated in this chapter too. The doctor's knuckles are described extensively and even the 'white hands' of the first suitor describe his obsession over virginity. These same hands recur in her dream too "holding her body in his hands and turning it slowly."
The writer, through this story has tried to make the reader understand that it should be our mandate to find a sweet corner in every human being and taste it. It is the hidden and unseen goodness in a person that should be noticed and appreciated.
Doctor Reefy - The doctor is an old man with a white beard and a huge nose and large hands. He gets married to a woman who has money, and soon his wife dies, leaving him a widower. Doctor Reefy has the habit of scribbling on bits of paper which he crumples them to make balls out of them only to stuff them in his pockets. He constantly seems to be contemplating about truth. Though he is shown to be anti-sentimentalist as he mocks his friend. Though he is a lonely person, as he does not have anyone to communicate his feelings and thoughts to.
His marriage to the tall girl has been described in this story. The lady comes to him after getting pregnant by one of her suitors and falls in love with the doctor himself. For the girl it is as if she has discovered the sweetness of twisted apples, which is far superior to that of any perfect apple. In the doctor's ability lies his goodness, and the girl has been able to detect it, which is symbolically represented in the passage where the author describes the taste of twisted apples.
PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
The story shifts from the present, to the past and then again to the present, therefore it is not in a linear chronological order. The tall dark girl’s past is discussed, which is later followed by her marriage with the doctor, and the story swings back to the present. These swings are a common occurrence in many of the other stories.
THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS
The confusion of choosing between two unlike characters has been portrayed. One suitor talks continually of the importance of virginity, while the other is always physical with her. The girl's dream of being bitten by the son of the jeweler makes her feel that the other suitor is better. But this results only in running away and meeting the doctor. The author has wished to convey to the reader how very often, at the last moment of uneasiness and indecision, a person might get his right choice of soul mate.
What does the lady find in Doctor Reefy, which she does not see in her suitors?