Jacob's Hands Analysis

Jacob’s Hands (Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Aldous Huxley’s and Christopher Isherwood’s Jacob’s Hands takes place during the 1920’s. Jacob Ericson discovers he has the power to heal and cures a crippled girl named Sharon. Although Jacob and Sharon like each other, they are very different: Jacob values a simple life in the Mojave Desert, but Sharon, after being cured, flees to Los Angeles to become a singer.

Jacob travels to the city and finds Sharon. He eventually cures Earl Medwin, a young millionaire who suffers from heart trouble and the crushing influence of his overbearing mother. Earl, previously morose and bed-ridden, is suddenly happy.

Things go wrong when Earl meets Sharon. The two have fun together, but Jacob feels out of place in the city. After Sharon and Earl get married in Las Vegas, Earl’s ailments suddenly return, and he dies in Jacob’s presence. One year later, Sharon and Jacob meet at Earl’s grave, where they decide that they love each other, but their lifestyles could never mix. They part ways. Jacob decides that he will no longer cure adults because he can only heal the body, not the soul.

Jacob’s Hands is a film treatment in novella form. As such, it moves too quickly to satisfy readers expecting the careful psychological character sketches for which Huxley and Isherwood are both known. The book is more of a first draft than a finished work, and it is likely that neither author intended it to be published in its current form.