Strong hands

An Awakening, pp. 110. “The affair between Ed Handby and Belle Carpenter on the surface amounted to nothing. He had succeeded in spending but one evening in her company. On that evening he hired a horse and buggy at Wesley Moyer’s livery barn and took her for a drive. The conviction that she was the woman his nature demanded and that he must get her settled upon him and he told her of his desires. The bartender was ready to marry and to begin trying to earn money for the support of his wife, but so simple was his nature that he found it difficult to explain his intentions. His body ached with physical longing and with his body he expressed himself. Taking the milliner into his arms and holding her tightly in spite of her struggles, he kissed her until she became helpless. Then he brought her back to town and let her out of the buggy. ‘When I get hold of you again I’ll not let you go. You can’t play with me,’ he declared as he turned to drive away. Then, jumping out of the buggy, he gripped her shoulders with his strong hands. ‘I’ll keep you for good the next time,’ he said. ‘You might as well make up your mind to that. It’s you and me for it and I’m going to have you before I get through.'”


There are just three characters said to have strong hands in Winesburg: Ed Handby, here; the unnamed woman of the preceding chapter, who ruined the solitary existence of Enoch Robinson and whose “hands were so strong and her face so good”; and Hal Winters of The Untold Lie.

There are a number of mentions of shoulder-gripping in this chapter, of which this is the first instance.

(As with the mention of “strong hands” the mention of a sword in this chapter (110 — not quoted here) vaguely echoes the preceding chapter, which has the book’s only other mention of a sword.)

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