Tandy Hard is a seven-year-old girl in Winesburg whose mother has died and who is now neglected by her father Tom Hard. Tom is a devout atheist obsessed with debating the existence of God with his neighbors. Tom befriends a drunken stranger who has fled the city and come to Winesburg in hopes of overcoming his alcoholism, and he is the one who gives Tandy her first name. The man is not successful in breaking his drinking habit, but he leaves a lasting impression on Tom’s daughter.
Tandy Hard has experienced a great deal of grief and pain at a young age, having lost her mother and been left in the care of her neglectful father. Tom’s staunch atheism encourages a sense of nihilism and hopelessness that is likely to influence Tandy as she grows older. The arrival of the stranger serves as a welcome disruption in the otherwise meaningless lives of the Hards.
The stranger tells Tom Hard and Tandy that he has lost faith, but that there is a prophetic woman coming and that the little girl might grow up to be her. He kisses the little girl’s hands and tells her that the woman will possess a rare quality that he calls “Tandy.” He then urges her to embody this by becoming strong, brave, and “something more than man or woman.” Tom soon forgets the stranger, but from that point on the little girl rejects her old name and demands to be called Tandy.
By delivering his prophecy to Tandy, the stranger imbues her with a strong sense of purpose and direction. Rather than telling her to emulate someone else, the stranger encourages her to embody the positive qualities that she already has within herself. This impactful moment emphasizes the importance of finding intrinsic meaning within oneself rather than subscribing to strict ideologies.