Winesburg, Ohio

Winesburg, Ohio

by

Sherwood Anderson

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Themes and Colors
Coming of Age, Independence, and Manhood Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Grief Theme Icon
Faith, Fate, and Meaning Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Winesburg, Ohio, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Coming of Age, Independence, and Manhood

As the protagonist of Winesburg, Ohio, George Willard is the common link among the novel’s interconnected stories. George, full of youth and potential, is continually confused by the mixed impressions he receives from his loved ones and acquaintances about what it truly means to be a grown man. Though several older men in town feel compelled to mentor George, confide in him, and impart their notions of life onto his impressionable mind, George is…

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Alienation

Winesburg, Ohio follows the inhabitants of a small midwestern town through a series of interconnected stories about their daily lives. Throughout these vignettes of rural American life, Anderson subverts the stereotype that small towns are idyllic, close-knit communities built on strong relationships. There is a distinct lack of human connection in Winesburg despite the townspeople’s close proximity to one another, with nearly every major character spending their days alone and feeling isolated from their neighbors…

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Grief

The townspeople of Winesburg are plagued by death, tragedy, and failure, all of which lend themselves to the community’s pervasive melancholic atmosphere and sense of hopelessness. Anderson uses Winesburg, Ohio’s extensive cast of characters to explore the toll that loss can take on the human psyche. Whereas some of Winesburg’s inhabitants become passive and stagnate in the wake of grief, others react with resentment, revenge, and escapism. Anderson portrays these varying methods of coping…

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Faith, Fate, and Meaning

Whereas small, rural towns are commonly associated with a strong religious foundation, there is a distinct lack of faith in the community of Winesburg. The novel begins with a cautionary tale about becoming possessed and corrupted by singular beliefs, a fate that ironically befalls many characters throughout the novel. Rather than trusting in God or destiny, several characters obsessively search for truth and try in vain to take fate into their own hands or create…

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