I Want to Know Why Questions and Answers
by Sherwood Anderson

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I Want to Know Why illustrates the difficulty of idolizing someone. The protagonist learns a useful lesson; while it is a harsh lesson, it will prepare...

"I Want to Know Why" illustrates the difficulty of idolizing someone. The protagonist learns a useful lesson; while it is a harsh lesson, it will prepare him for future disappointments. What is the difficulty that one has when one idolizes someone? What useful lesson does the protagonist learn in this story, and how this lesson prepares him for the future?

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There are difficulties that arise when someone is idolized because idolizing means turning someone into an object of reverence; it is an act of judging someone as possessing some extraordinary quality. Often, this judgement places expectations around the person being idolized like a box of impossible standards that must be fit into. This is partially why the protagonist is disappointed when he idolizes Jerry Telford: he has put Jerry in a box of what he wants him to be—having projected his own passion for horses onto Jerry just before the race—and when Jerry does not continue to embody that passion, the protagonist becomes disappointed.

The protagonist makes his error in assuming what Jerry is thinking and feeling just before the race:

I was standing looking at that horse and aching. In some way, I can't tell how, I knew just how Sunstreak felt inside . . . he was just a raging torrent inside. He was like the water in the river at Niagara Falls just before its goes plunk down. That...

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