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    Interpretation of the Story "Hands"

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    "Hands" is the story of a fat, old, little man named Wing Biddlebaum who lives mainly isolated from the town life of Winesburg, Ohio. He remained a mystery to the majority of the town after moving there twenty years before. Often frightened, he would hear ghostly voices personifying his doubts. He would sit on the outskirts of the town in his little house and watch the youth. He spoke closely only with George Willard, the boy reporter of the Winesburg Eagle. George would occasionally walk to his house in the evenings and Wing looked forward to these times. Only with George would Wing become alive, walking into town or talking loudly and feverishly above the whisper he normally used.

    He spoke mainly with his hands which flew in excitement. Their movement was fidgety and restless, compared by a poet to the wings of a bird, giving him his name. Normally, Wing attempted to keep his hands hidden. He looked at others' calm hands in amazement. When he spoke with George, he would harness their energy by making fists and beating them against walls or fences. The town was proud of Wing's hands like one is of any novelty. George wished to know why Wing restrained his hands and why he seemed almost frightened by their power. He nearly asked one day when Wing was very excitedly talking to him about George's propensity for being too easily influenced by the townspeople. Wing wanted him to think and act for himself, and not to be afraid to dream. Wing's involvement with his lecture led him to reveal his hands without noticing. While talking in earnest, they touched George's shoulders and caressed him. Fear suddenly crossed Wing's face and he ran quickly back home.

    Wing had previously lived in Pennsylvania as a school teacher named Adolf Myers who was loved by the boys he taught because of his gentle power. He spoke dreamily and with his hands and voice tried to convey that dream into the hearts of the young boys. He caressed their shoulders and tousled their hair. Through his hands, he expressed himself and the boys began to dream instead of doubt. One boy came along who yearned for the teacher and dreamt of unspeakable things at night, spreading his dreams through the town as truth. Fears of Adolph were substantiated. The boys confirmed that he had played with their hair and touched their shoulders. One father beat Adolph and at night, the town came forth to drive him from it, nearly hanging him. He gathered a new last name from a box of goods and lived in Winesburg with an aunt until she died. Wing was only forty-five but looked much older. He felt ashamed for his hands, though unsure of what he had done wrong. He paced on his veranda after leaving George until the sun set and then ate and prepared for bed. George acted as his medium of expression and Wing missed his presence. Crumbs of white bread littered the floor. He picked them up nimbly and rapidly, appearing in the low light like a priest with his rosary beads.

    "Hands" Analysis
    Wing provides us with the first in-depth look at the character as a grotesque. The young thing inside the old writer created the figures, one of which is Wing Biddlebaum. As is ordinary in Anderson's short stories, the grotesque figure has become old before his time due to the tiring and stressful circumstances which he has endured in life. Most of the figures share the similar history of a failed passion in life, of some kind or another. Many are lonely introverts who struggle with a burning fire which still smolders inside of them. The moments described by the short stories are usually the moments when the passion tries to resurface but no longer has the strength. The stories are brief glimpses of people failing.

    Wing's hands are a manifestation of his being grotesque. They are a form of metonymy if one understands grotesque as awkward and strange. But Anderson more largely explored the figure of the grotesque. According to his theories, a grotesque was one who grasped a truth of the world too independently and too completely and thus failed. Anderson's grotesque is one who is ineffectual in communication, one who fails at expression. Wing's hands CAN express Wing's feelings, he just does not allow them to. Moreover, the hands are a symbol of the old writer from the prologue. Wing's hands had once been his medium of expression like a pen or typewriter is writer's medium of expression. We are told that Wing's hands are quick and skillful; he is talented. But his skill is tainted and feared - grotesque - giving the reader another perspective through which to view the act of writing itself and through which to understand the hand of the book's author.

    The reader understands Wing as a harmless, sensitive man who is frightened by his own passions. He tends to be misunderstood by the people around him. We are endeared to Wing especially after learning about the circumstances which brought him to Winesburg. He urges George to dream and follow his own heart without giving into the influence of the townspeople. This parallels the life he had led as a school teacher before the scandal. The similarity of circumstances leads to his fear arising and his need to flee from George. But, we are soothed by the fact that the passion, the young woman inside of Wing, is still alive even though it has been chased out of one town and lives in fear in another.

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    Hello and welcome to Brain Mass today! You logged in and asked for help with a summary:

    "Hands" is the story of man named Wing Biddlebaum who lives in Winesburg, Ohio. He is an odd man who observes the town from a distance and acts very mysterious. He is barely 45, but looks far older than his age. One of the few people that he speaks to and is comfortable with is named George Wllard who is a reporter for the Winesburg Eagle.

    Wing spoke mainly with his hands which ...

    Solution Summary

    The interpretation of the story "hands" is discussed.