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As one of Sherwood Anderson's "grotesques", Wing Biddlebaum lives a life of isolation and silent desperation. As such, he belongs nowhere, neither to his hometown in Pennsylvania nor to the town in which he currently lives, Winesburg, Ohio.
Biddlebaum once did belong to his Pennsylvania hometown. He was a respected schoolteacher, "much loved by the boys of his school". He was a man who expressed himself with his hands, however, and often when he was interacting with his boys his hands would naturally be "caressing the shoulders of the boys, playing about the touseled heads". One of the boys, a half-wit, began to interpret Biddlebaum's innocent touching as "unspeakable things"; he began to spread rumors, and Biddlebaum was run out of town, by men who "ran after him, swearing and throwing sticks and great balls of soft mud". He would never be able to return there.
Biddlebaum settled in Winesburg, Ohio, but "forever frightened and beset by a ghostly band of doubts, did not think of himself as in any way a part of the life of the town". For twenty years he lived in Winesburg, isolated, unconnected, and except for the friendship of George Willard, alone.
(all quotes from "Hands" in Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson)
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