Hands Essay

1036 words - 4 pages

Hands Widely recognized as the most popular of Sherwood Anderson novels, Hands addresses the extent of alienation. Binding a clear message, Anderson shows Wing Biddlebaum to be self-alienated, alienated from society, and alienated by emotional and spiritual decrepitude.Interweaving the subject of isolation, Anderson portrays Biddlebaum to isolate himself from other because of confusion and fear. Biddlebaum is confused and disoriented, when his hands naturally arise to caress a person. "Pausing in his speech, Wing Biddlebaum looked long and earnestly at George Willard. His eyes glowed. Again he raised his hands to caress the boy and then a look of horror swept over his face." While Biddlebaum does not realize why he is struck with fear, Anderson tells the reader that he "was one of those rare little-understood men who rule by power so gentle that it passes as a lovable weakness." Thus, the author shows that Biddlebaum is alienated through confusion because he is so "gentle" and "weak". In further descriptions of Biddlebaum, the narrator states that Biddlebaum "did not understand what had happened" when he was disoriented by fear, but felt "that his hands were to blame" after he was driven from Pennsylvania." Biddlebaum's confusion and isolates him from his environment, to his detriment. Anderson also explores Biddlebaum's fear of his hands. "For a moment he stood thus rubbing his hands together and looking up and down the road, and then fear overcoming him, ran back to walk again upon the porch of his house." Biddlebaum "wanted to keep [his hands] hidden away" for reasons that he himself does not know. In other instances, the author shows that George Willard, his friend, knew that his hands were the cause of his fear. Willard was "touched by the memory of the terror he had seen in the man's eyes." "There's something wrong…his hands have something to do with his fear of me and everyone" Willard states. Thus, Anderson reveals that Biddlebaum is self-alienated by his disorientation regarding his hands, and his fear of the use of them.On a different token, Anderson points out that society has alienated Biddlebaum through exclusion and violence. During his career as a teacher, Biddlebaum expressed himself "by the caress that was in his fingers." Tragically, "a halfwitted boy of the school became enamored of the young master. In his bed at night he imagined unspeakable things…and went forth to tell his dreams as facts. Trembling lads were jerked out of bed and questioned," where the boys stated that "[Biddlebaum] put his arms about me," and "his fingers were always playing in my hair." Biddlebaum thus became ostracized when these accusations destroyed his career. Yet, other scenes produce more descriptive incidents of alienation when the narrator states that "among all the people in Winesburg but one had come close to him." Biddlebaum's experience with others, while partly at fault, again, expresses society's exclusion of those who seem to...

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