Winesburg, Ohio, also known as the Book of Grotesque is a modern American classic by Sherwood Anderson. He came to be known as the “Father of Realism”, as he left his mark on literature, being the first one to portray authentic moments in American life. He tells the stories of many “faces” he saw in his dreams, describing their deeply moving lives filled with secrets. The twenty-one stories in the novel are united through the setting, Winesburg, and the main character, George Willard. The novel is character driven, and the stories have very weak plots. Winesburg is a small town, full of lonely characters whom Anderson calls “grotesques” because of their inability to express themselves and communicate with others. The readers notice immediately that the stories have a visible pattern. Each begins with a short introduction and continues with a flash-back, in which the author explains the cause of their trauma (inability to communicate). After recognizing their unspoken truth, the main character has an “adventure”, in which he or she experiences a moment of revelation. Sadly, however, the characters then return to their original ineffective state.
“Hands” is a very beautiful and one of the most acclaimed pieces by Anderson. This story revolves around a character called Wing Biddlebaum, who lives a solitary life in Winesburg after a tragedy in Pennsylvania. At one time, he was a charismatic teacher, who taught the students to dream. However, one day he is mistakenly believed to have harassed his students and was never able to teach again. He becomes a grotesque because of the confusion and fear caused by the incident. As many other characters, he reaches out to George Willard in an attempt to express himself. At the beginning Wing Biddlebaum is seen as a reclusive old man. Then, the story reveals his gift of being perceptive and passionate. In the end, he is woven into a fragile character, aching from his unfulfilled passion.
One of the adjectives that best describes Wing Biddlebaum is reclusive. Anderson often uses description of the character’s houses to provide insight into their personality. In this story, Wing Biddlebaum lives in a “small framed house” with a “half-decayed veranda”, thus revealing his isolation and “destroyed” (10) spirit. Small-framed houses have scarcity of light, hence suggesting that Biddlebaum is closed and has a lack of communication. Even though he has lived in Winesburg for twenty years, he “did not think of himself as in any way a part of the life of the town” (12). During the long years of his residence, he never considers himself as a part of the community. The only person with whom he develops a kind of friendship was George Willard. During a conversation with him, Biddlebaum leaves saying, “I can’t talk no more with you,” (15) because the anguish from the tragic memory overtook him. However, he “still hungered for the presence of the boy, who was the medium through which...