Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“These Hands” opens with a self-reflexive reference to the teller of the story itself: “The protagonist of this story is named Lewis Winters. He is also its narrator, and he is also me.” The technique that changes the story from simply one in which a man feels paternal love toward an eighteenth-month-old baby is Lewis’s use of such words as “lover” and “my love” to refer to the baby Caroline. Because such terms are usually reserved for adults, the story could be taken initially for one in which Lewis has a Lolita-like sexual love for the infant. Although Lewis says at the beginning of the story that this is not one of his fairy tales, his use of several fairy-tale motifs challenges a possible sexual misinterpretation of the story.

Lewis uses several fairy-tale references to help him understand his love for Caroline. For example, he tells the story of a man who grows so fond of the sky that he makes a kite out of his heart and sails it into the sky. Never looking down for fear that he might be pulled to earth, he sails the world. Talking about love, Lewis says, is like the story he is telling, for it is always difficult to articulate what love really means. Lewis creates fairy tales that feature Caroline as an innocent who is able to see the imaginary constructs of fairy tales as if they were of the physical world. In one such story, Caroline floats around in a giant bubble and sees a man’s heart sail by like a kite.


(The entire section is 543 words.)