The Conflict In The Short Story

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The Conflict In The Short Story “Hands” Essay, Research Paper “Hands,? by Sherwood Anderson, is a story that seems to be stripped of sentimentality, yet conveys emotion. Anderson tells the somber story of a misunderstood and wrongfully accused man. The protagonist, Wing Biddlebaum, failed to communicate his true self. His inner desires were repressed because conventions and tradition distorted and twisted them. As mentioned before, the central character in ?Hands? is Wing Biddlebaum. He is clearly a round character because he has more than one side to his personality throughout the story. Wing is dynamic because he makes a change from a kind, outgoing, enthusiastic teacher to a withdrawn, frightened person. For as much as Wing is described, there are still many aspects

of his character that seem left out. Perhaps this is for interest. Wing Biddlebaum, previously known as Adolph Meyers, is a teacher. He ?was meant by nature to be a rare teacher of youth. He was one of those rare, little-understood men who rule by a power so gentle that it passes as a lovable weakness.? Since his demeanor is not of the stereotypical man, macho and strong, teaching with force or fear, people are suspicious of him. ?Hands? was written in 1919, and yet today in 2000 (81 years later) suspicion surrounding a man like Adolph Meyers might still exist. Since shadowy doubts already existed about Meyers, it was easy for the Pennsylvania townspeople to believe the ?unspeakable? accusations a ?half-witted boy? made against Meyers. The narrator tells the reader that these

accusations are false, not just bluntly, but also through the innocence with which Adolph is described. It is hard to believe that Meyers could hurt anyone, let alone a student, someone whose dreams he was trying to encourage. As might happen in reality, angry men and fathers with lanterns drove Adolph Meyers from the fictional town. He was saved from hanging because even as he was cast in this evil light, he ?touched their hearts.? This illustrates perhaps better than any other example the extent of the main character?s ability to communicate his feelings without force. He was not saved because he fought back, but rather he was so small, white and pitiful. After this incident, the newly named Wing Biddlebaum is consumed with an emotion related to his hands, which is hard to

distinguish. Although the reader is clearly informed that Biddlebaum is not guilty of the accusations made against him, it is hard to clarify whether he perceives his hands as a symbol of his perceived guilt, or a manifestation of his fears. Both are probably true; however, the narrator gives the latter more attention. There are many references to Wing?s fear: ?Their [the hands] restless activity, like unto the beating of the wings of an imprisoned bird,? ?The slender expressive fingers, forever active, forever striving to conceal themselves in his pockets or behind his back . . .? ?he raised the hands to caress the boy and then a look swept over his face . . .? ect. Ironically, Wing Biddlebaum does not know why he was driven out of the Pennsylvania town and almost killed. He

does, however, sense that his hands must be to blame. It is not surprising, then, that his fears would manifest in his fidgeting or hiding of hands. It is almost as though without his hands, his dreams cannot be expressed or shared. Again, the reader is struck with the sadness and overwhelming helplessness that the main character must feel in everyday life. Wing is a very sad man. False accusations aside, he has always been misunderstood. Even before the tragedy, he was looked upon with skepticism. His occupation of teaching young boys was one that would have generally been carried out by a female. People could not understand why a male would choose such a life. It must have been depressing to always be misread. An onlooker not tainted with bias or stereotypes could easily see