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What is the significance of the source of the rumors in "Hands" by Sherwood Anderson?

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neshat | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 20, 2010 at 6:35 AM via web

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What is the significance of the source of the rumors in "Hands" by Sherwood Anderson?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 20, 2010 at 6:50 AM (Answer #1)

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It is significant the the source of the rumors that led to the disgrace and banishment of Adolph Myers, also known as Wing Biddlebaum, was

"a half-witted boy of the school (who) became enamored of the young master."

The fact that the boy is described as "half-witted" casts immediate doubt on the veracity of his accusations, and the added information that he "became enamored" of his teacher further fuels the possiblity that his perceptions of Myers might not have been completely objective. In the final analysis, the source of the rumors was unreliable. The author goes on to say that the boy

"imagined unspeakable things...in his bed at night...and in the morning went forth to tell his dreams as facts...strange, hideous accusations fell from his loose-hung lips."

It is significant that the boy "imagined" these things, which he went on to spread among others as truth. His accusations clearly stemmed from "dreams," not reality, and what he said about his teacher was "strange, hideous," falling from "loose-hung lips" which gives the impression of idle talk unsupported by reason. The effect of the boy's prattling was devastating - "shadowy doubts that had been in men's minds concerning Adolph Myers were galvanized into beliefs" because of his testimony, and the master was sent away from the community in ignominy.

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