Throughout Winesburg, Ohio, characters’ hands serve as outward manifestations of their life experiences and internal struggles. Like Wing Biddlebaum’s erratic behavior and tarnished past, his hands move uncontrollably and likewise become a source of grotesque shame in his life. Doctor Reefy’s hands similarly reflect his past, as his huge knuckles resemble the sweet “twisted apples” that the narrator likens to the sweetness of Reefy’s love affair with his young wife before she passes away. Finally, the drunk stranger who delivers a prophecy to Tandy Hard makes a point of kissing her hands, a gesture that symbolizing the deep magnitude of his words and the sustained sense of purpose and meaning his encouragement bestows upon her.
Together these examples suggest the ways in which one’s environment and experiences therein forever shape—and, in many cases, gnarl and warp—an individual’s entire identity.
Hands Quotes in Winesburg, Ohio
In Winesburg the hands had attracted attention merely because of their activity. With them Wing Biddlebaum had picked as high as a hundred and forty quarts of strawberries in a day. They became his distinguishing feature, the source of his fame. And they made more grotesque an already grotesque and elusive individuality.
On the trees are only a few gnarled apples that the pickers have rejected. They look like the knuckles of Doctor Reefy’s hands…Only the few know the sweetness of the twisted apples.
The stranger arose and stood before Tom Hard. His body rocked back and forth and he seemed about to fall, but instead he dropped to his knees on the sidewalk and raise the hands of the little girl to his drunken lips. He kissed them ecstatically. “Be Tandy, little one,” he pleaded. “Dare to be strong and courageous. That is the road. Venture anything. Be brave enough to dare to be loved. Be something more than man or woman. Be Tandy.”