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STORY 12 - 'TANDY'
The setting of this story is an old unpainted house, on an unused road that leads off Trunion Pike, in
Stranger - Son of a rich merchant of Cleveland, he has come to Winesburg to rid himself of his drinking habit.
Tom Hard - A friend to the stranger
Tom's Daughter - A child of five, in whom the stranger sees a future.
Protagonist - The stranger is the main character since he predicts a future for Tom's daughter.
Antagonist - There is no antagonistic character in the story, since there are no negative reactions, no evil significance in the story at all.
Climax - The climax is reached when the stranger, on seeing Tom's daughter, predicts a future and implores her to be strong and brave. He also names her Tandy, which is the "quality of being strong to be loved."
Outcome - The outcome is the deep faith that the girl puts in the stranger's words. She insists on being addressed as Tandy and her childish fear that she might not live up to the stranger's expectations.
The story revolves around the theme of blind and total belief in a a person.
The theme is the eerie beliefs of the total stranger, in a young five-year-old girl. It depicts the faith in the child, to do great deeds in her future.
The mood is serious throughout the story. It turns a little eerie when the stranger predicts the little girl's future, especially so, when later the girl insists on being addressed to as Tandy.
In an old unpainted house, lives a child who is seven, with her father Tom Hard. Her father hardly pays any attention to her is an agnostic who is only interested in spending his time talking about religion and God, trying to destroy the idea of God.
But one day when the girl was five, a stranger arrives in Winesburg. He is the son of a rich merchant, but has rushed his life by excessive drinking. He has come to hope that a rural surrounding would pull him out of his drinking habit. But he is unable to do so.
Later, he arrives at Tom Hard's house. He begins speaking eloquently about his distress at not being able to get rid of his drinking problem. He then goes on to proclaim that in his vision there is a woman who has yet to cross his path. She will have to struggle a lot in her life. The stranger says that he has named her Tandy, which is a quality of "being strong to be loved." He then speaks to Tom's daughter and tells her to be Tandy and to be "brave enough to be loved." The stranger leaves with more words of courage and strength.
Later, the father has of course, not given importance to the manís words and addresses his daughter by her real name. But the girl begins weeping bitterly and entreats her father to call her Tandy, saying "I want to be Tandy, I want to be Tandy Hard."
The stranger's motive in coming to Winesburg was to get rid of his drinking habit. He leaves Winesburg still a drunkard, but he brings about a strange change in the life of a five-year-old child.
The child's father has been shown as a hollow, shallow man, who talks of God and religion but doesn't care for his own child. Moreover, it is an absolute stranger who comes and alters the child's life.
When the stranger begins to relate his tale of woe to Tom Hard, the readers are made to realize that he wishes to absolve himself of his sins. His words about the woman coming in his life is supposed to be like a benediction for him.
Here, the conventional attitude of men towards women is portrayed. Woman is considered as the weaker sex, yet it is she who imparts strength to the man, and in return receives affection.
The stranger sees the woman of strength and courage in this little girl. He knows that this girl cannot now at this point of time, come in his life as a woman, but he pleads with her to dare to be strong and courageous "be something more than man or woman." His words are like a blessing for the young girl.
The stranger's conception of love is not just the one between man and woman. It is universal. For him, Tandy represents salvation, an absolution from his sins.
Tandy too in her innocence of age, has comprehended the stranger's words. Therefore, when her ignorant father calls her by her own name, she insists on being called Tandy. Though she doesn't understand the depth of the words of the stranger, she has an inkling of the vision of his words, and doesn't want to lose it.
The Stranger - He is the son of a rich merchant and he is a habitual drinker. He has come to Winesburg, ostensibly to sure himself of this habit. However the city's dullness pushes him towards drinking. His only success in this sojourn is that he bestows a name, rich with meaning, to Tom Hard's daughter. The stranger is full of strong beliefs and talks about the problems of a woman, her struggles, and her defeats. According to him, a new quality is formed out of her defeats, which is needed by men. This is called Tandy, the quality of being strong to be loved.
PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
The story begins with the entry of the stranger in Winesburg and his meeting with the child. The story reaches its climax when he voices his utter belief in the childís qualities of strength and courage. The outcome is unexpected one. The stranger leaves, and the father is left with a child who is so taken in by the strangers words that she now wishes to be treated like an extraordinary being.
There is hardly any depth of plot; it is merely a voicing of the beliefs of the stranger. But the effects of these words are strong and depicted well. The story ends with the child's insistence on being called Tandy.
THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS
The theme in the story is of strength in beliefs and in womanhood itself.
The hope showered on a young girl's future has been thematically utilized in this story. The drunkard, Tom, has strong beliefs and sees a future for the entire womanhood in his theories. These theories might just be a drunkards wayward thoughts or notions, but they have been solemnly accepted by Tom's girl. The concept of women being the stronghold for men and their pillar of strength has been depicted. This theme strengthens the age-old notion of man making a woman subservient, yet looking up at her for strength.
What does the stranger mean by his words? Describe the little girl's behavior later?