An Analysis of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio Essay

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An Analysis of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio

Under the guise of simplicity, Sherwood Anderson weaves an intricate tale of man's struggle for understanding and love in Winesburg, Ohio. Against a backdrop rich with symbolism, he examines man's truths crumbling behind the walls he has built.

Anderson employs a strong use of symbolism in "Adventure." Waiting in vain for a self-made fantasy to realize, Alice Hindman sacrifices a meaningful life within society. Alice's "outward existence appears to run steadily downhill into dull meaninglessness, her inward life climbs with increasing intensity toward a climax of desperation and hysteria" (Joselyn 450). The intensity, "a passionate restlessness," forces Alice to realize that she
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Twisted apples, rejected by the pickers, are like the misunderstood misfits rejected by society; underneath they are just as wonderful and yet "only a few know the sweetness of the twisted apples" (Anderson 36). Paper pills, the unspoken ideas of Doctor Reefy, are doses of medicine he cannot prescribe. Another object, money symbolizes the means for freedom or control. Elizabeth Willard's father, on his death bed, gives her eight hundred dollars. Hoping she will "take it and go away" he pleads with her to keep silent about the money (Anderson 225). Ironically, the very symbol of freedom remains hidden behind a wall, although she struggles in silence to reveal its location and purpose. In "Drink," Tom Foster's grandmother finds money and purchases tickets to escape a city filled with "ugliness and crime and lust" (Anderson 215). Arriving in Winesburg, a bustling town different from the small village of her childhood, she wonders if she has made a mistake. Money did not provide the freedom she sought. Money played an important part in Doctor Parcival's relationship with his brother. His brother controlled the family with his money and the bitterness remained with the doctor throughout his life. Jesse Bentley hungered for what money represented: control, a means for "mastering the souls of his people" (Anderson 67). The comparison between the Willard Hotel and the owner, Tom, is another example of Anderson's use of symbolism. The building is aging, the wallpaper fading.

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