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MonkeyNotes-Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson-Free Study Guide
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STORY 16 - 'AN AWAKENING'

SETTING

The story is set in Winesburg, Ohio. The story moves from Belle's house, into the dark streets of Winesburg.

CHARACTER LIST

Major Characters

Belle Carpenter - A tall and strong girl, she loves Ed Handby and uses George to make him jealous.

Minor Characters

Ed Handby - A bartender at Ed Griffith's saloon, he is a powerful man, who however is unable to voice his feelings for Belle.

Henry Carpenter - Belle's father, whom Belle hates for his brutal treatment of her mother.


CONFLICT

Protagonist - Belle is the main character as the story revolves around her love with Ed Hardly.

Antagonist - There is no antagonist character. At the most, her father can be considered one because of his bullying nature, yet he is not an important element in the scheme of things.

Climax - The climax is reached when Belle allows George to take her for a walk and lets him kiss her. This is done so that Ed would see them, would get jealous and angry, and then at least, propose to Belle.

Outcome - The outcome is detrimental for poor George, who is just a pawn in Belle's scheme. Ed seeing George kissing Belle, is consumed with blinding rage, and beats him up mercilessly. George’s emotion is later in utter confusion and a deep hatred for Belle.

THEMES

The theme is the devious methods used by women to have their way in love, without consideration of any one else who might hurt from it.

MOOD

The mood is surprisingly light. Belle's scheming mind ensures George and the outcome is bad for George, but almost comic for the reader.

STORY SUMMARY

Belle Carpenter, daughter of Henry Carpenter, worked at a millinery shop. Her father is a bully and a sticker of petty routine. As a young girl, she was scared of him, but now he has no power over her. She laughed at his pettiness and foiled his attempts at regularity and routine.

Belle walks out with George occasionally, but she is secretly in love with Ed Handby, a bartender. Ed too loves her, but can't express it in his brutal manners. When he is with her, his physical longings overtake him and he can't find the right words to express his true emotions.

One day, after spending an evening of talk and oratory at the poolroom, with his friends, George walks out filled with ideas and thoughts. He even begins expressing them aloud and is hypnotized by his own words.

When he reaches Belle's house it is dark. He asks her out; not knowing that Ed had come earlier and had again failed to propose to her. He had left just sullenly warning her against George. So, on seeing George, Belle purposely walks out with him, in the hope that Ed would see and suffer.

In the darkness of the forest, George takes her in his arm, but he has the feeling that she is awaiting someone else. This feeling has even come to him earlier. At that point, Ed comes to the scene, throws George aside brutally and marches Belle away.

George is humiliated and hates himself. His surroundings itself seems common place and squalid and he feels like running away.

Notes

Human characters, with all its intricate nuances have been beautifully portrayed in this story. Belle's desire to show her father that he cannot bully her makes her smear his ironing boards on which he presses the clothes, with mud. Her need to prove her worth to Ed pushes her to use George as her stooge. George is oblivious to this and uses Belle to satisfy his own growing desires.

Ed is unable to voice his true sentiments, and as it often happens, ends up showing only his power over her and his physical strength. For a girl, this in not enough, which is why Belle goes out with George, knowing fully well the consequences. She is playing with two hearts at the same time. Probably her doings are innocuous but it is unfair for both the men.

George after his night with his friends shows himself in a new light. He is hypnotized by his own, high-handed words and gets carried away. His mutterings about law and order, enforcement and such resounding thoughts carries him unknowingly to Belle's house. He thinks that she would be able to understand his mood. Little does he realize the consequences of his actions.

It is Belle's girlish desire to make her lover suffer and watch him do so, that makes her go with George -"In the dim moonlight, the man sat motionless holding his head in his hands. She was made happy by the sight." This is why, even when she is with George, it seems as if she is not listening to him and is awaiting someone.

The brush with Ed, jars George back to his own world. He is awakened to it brutally, and he realizes that all his words and profound thought's were futile and meaningless in the face of reality.

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

Belle Carpenter - Belle is a strong woman with strong feelings. Her hatred for her father pushes her to spoil his ironing board on which he presses the clothes worn by the people on the street. She is anxious about her love for Ed Handby, since he had yet to formally propose to her. As many wily women think, she too assumes that she can win him through deviousness and assumes treachery of course, she does win him, but hurting and humiliating George in the process.

PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS

Bella’s relationship with her father is the expositional point of the story. Belle's relationship with her father has been mildly touched upon, in the beginning, but no more reference is made to it later. The plot moves smoothly to the fulfillment of Belle's devious wish to make Ed propose to her, but in the process George is made use of. The scene ends with George expressing his hatred for Belle. Climax is reached when she uses George to help her make Ed propose to her. The outcome is George’s hatred for Belle.

THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS

The theme of the story is of a woman’s intensity of love, which pushes her to use jealousy as a motive to bring him close to her. A woman's inconsideration in using another man for her motives has been described. Kate has no qualms about using George, to get to Ed Handy.

It is an accepted belief that men can be turned towards becoming amorous if the girl is seen with another man. Their natural impulses of jealousy are awakened and can be channeled in accordance. This manner of thinking and acting, if used with sensibility, might how being about results. Here, though Belle accomplishes her deed, hurts George in he process, which is inexcusable.

STUDY QUESTIONS

Do you agree with Belle's idea getting her beloved's attention? Explain.

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