Winesburg, Ohio

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The central character, insofar as the book has one, is George Willard. This young reporter for the Winesburg Eagle draws the confidences of many of the lost souls who, misunderstood or ignored by their fellow townspeople, are mostly silent and invisible. When George leaves town at the end of the book, he plans to become a writer--to give voice to the voiceless, as Anderson does here.

Of the twenty-five stories in WINESBURG, OHIO, among the most striking are “HANDS,” “ADVENTURE,” and “THE UNTOLD LIE.” Each is also typical: Anderson’s stories are plotless, depending for their effects not on action but on moments of revelation. In “Hands,” for example, hardly anything happens. A man named Wing Biddlebaum tells George Willard that he must not waste his life--he must “begin to dream"--and George is struck by the expressiveness of Wing’s hands. Then the reader learns that Wing had been an inspired teacher who was fired for innocently putting his hands on his pupils. A wasted life is poignantly revealed in a few pages.

All that happens in “ADVENTURE” is that a young woman named Alice Hindman, abandoned by her lover years earlier, runs naked out of her house into the rain. This small event, the culmination of a long period of growing restlessness, leads her to try “to face bravely the fact that many people must live and die alone.”

In “THE UNTOLD LIE,” a farm hand named Hal Winters confesses to Ray...

(The entire section is 528 words.)