Winesburg, Ohio

Winesburg, Ohio

by

Sherwood Anderson

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Hands Symbol Icon

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

The Winesburg, Ohio quotes below all refer to the symbol of Hands. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age, Independence, and Manhood Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet edition of Winesburg, Ohio published in 1993.
2. Hands Quotes

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.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Wing Biddlebaum / Adolph Meyers
Related Symbols: Hands
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
3. Paper Pills Quotes

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.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Elizabeth Willard, Doctor Reefy
Related Symbols: Hands
Page Number: 17-18
Explanation and Analysis:
15. Tandy Quotes

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.”

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), The Stranger (speaker), Tandy Hard, Tom Hard
Related Symbols: Hands
Page Number: 132-133
Explanation and Analysis:
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Winesburg, Ohio PDF

Hands Symbol Timeline in Winesburg, Ohio

The timeline below shows where the symbol Hands appears in Winesburg, Ohio. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
2. Hands
Alienation Theme Icon
...shell and face the world with less timidity and fear. When talking with George, Wing’s hands are noticeably expressive. (full context)
Alienation Theme Icon
The narrator states that Wing’s story is “a story of hands.” Their constant erratic movement is similar to that of a caged bird, which is how... (full context)
Alienation Theme Icon
When Wing arrived in Winesburg, his hands attracted attention because their constant motion allowed him to pick high volumes of strawberries as... (full context)
Coming of Age, Independence, and Manhood Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Faith, Fate, and Meaning Theme Icon
George had almost reached the point of asking Wing about his hands once before. The two were walking in the fields when Wing began beating on a... (full context)
Alienation Theme Icon
Grief Theme Icon
Faith, Fate, and Meaning Theme Icon
The narrator shifts to tell the story of Wing’s hands. Twenty years ago, Wing had been a schoolteacher in Pennsylvania where he was known as... (full context)
3. Paper Pills
Grief Theme Icon
Faith, Fate, and Meaning Theme Icon
...apples that are rejected by the pickers in Winesburg’s orchards. The enormous knuckles of Reefy’s hands are also similar to the gnarled, twisted apples. When Reefy was forty-five, the woman he... (full context)
15. Tandy
Faith, Fate, and Meaning Theme Icon
...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.”... (full context)