Archive for the ‘Winesburg OH’ Category

Handkerchief

February 15, 2018

Paper Pills, pp. 11. “After the tall dark girl came to know Doctor Reefy it seemed to her that she never wanted to leave him again. She went into his office one morning and without her saying anything he seemed to know what had happened to her.

In the office of the doctor there was a woman, the wife of the man who kept the bookstore in Winesburg. Like all old-fashioned country practitioners, Doctor Reefy pulled teeth, and the woman who waited held a handkerchief to her teeth and groaned. Her husband was with her and when the tooth was taken out they both screamed and blood ran down on the woman’s white dress. The tall dark girl did not pay any attention. When the woman and the man had gone the doctor smiled. ‘I will take you driving into the country with me,’ he said.”

DEPARTURE / George Willard

February 14, 2018

PP. 152 : “On the station platform everyone shook the young man’s hand“; “Gertrude Wilmot, a tall thin woman of fifty who worked in the Winesburg post office, came along the station platform. She had never before paid any attention to George. Now she stopped and put out her hand“;

PP. 153 :”Butch Wheeler the lamp lighter of Winesburg hurrying through the streets on a summer evening and holding a torch in his hand.”


Put out his/ her hand… “Put out her hand” occurs three times: Elizabeth Willard (140), Alice Lindman (66), and Gertrude Wilmot. “Put out his hand” occurs six times: Seth Richmond put out his hand to Helen White (81), Elizabeth Willard’s father put out his hand to Elizabeth Willard on his death bed (139), Elizabeth Willard thought, on her death bed, that Death would put his hand out to her (140), Dr. Reefy put out his hand to George Willard (then withdrew it) (141), George Willard put out his hand “again and again” to lift the sheet over his mother’s dead body (142).

In her/ his hand… These phrases occur 6 and 19 times respectively. Some of the items held in hands: whip, scissors, milk bottle, knife, sword, torch. The most concentrated used of this formula is in “Queer” (115) where we’re told four times Elmer Cowley has a shoe in his hand/s.

A torch in his hand

February 14, 2018

Departure, pp.153 “After George counted his money he looked out of the window and was surprised to see that the train was still in Winesburg.

The young man, going out of his town to meet the adventure of life, began to think but he did not think of anything very big or dramatic. Things like his mother’s death, his departure from Winesburg, the uncertainty of his future life in the city, the serious and larger aspects of his life did not come into his mind.

He thought of little things—Turk Smollet wheeling boards through the main street of his town in the morning, a tall woman, beautifully gowned, who had once stayed overnight at his father’s hotel, Butch Wheeler the lamp lighter of Winesburg hurrying through the streets on a summer evening and holding a torch in his hand, Helen White standing by a window in the Winesburg post office and putting a stamp on an envelope.

The young man’s mind was carried away by his growing passion for dreams. One looking at him would not have thought him particularly sharp. With the recollection of little things occupying his mind he closed his eyes and leaned back in the car seat. He stayed that way for a long time and when he aroused himself and again looked out of the car window the town of Winesburg had disappeared and his life there had become but a background on which to paint the dreams of his manhood.”

*

Enoch Robinson as Failed Artist… These “little things” Willard thinks of recalls the glimpses we’re given of the imagined people of Enoch Robinson (104); as well as the “gotesques” (2):

You see the interest in all this lies in the figures that went before the eyes of the writer. They were all grotesques. All of the men and women the writer had ever known had become grotesques.

The grotesques were not all horrible. Some were amusing, some almost beautiful, and one, a woman all drawn out of shape, hurt the old man by her grotesqueness. When she passed he made a noise like a small dog whimpering. Had you come into the room you might have supposed the old man had unpleasant dreams or perhaps indigestion.

Everyone shook the young man’s hand

February 14, 2018

Departure, pp.152 “On the station platform everyone shook the young man’s hand. More than a dozen people waited about. Then they talked of their own affairs. Even Will Henderson, who was lazy and often slept until nine, had got out of bed. George was embarrassed. Gertrude Wilmot, a tall thin woman of fifty who worked in the Winesburg post office, came along the station platform. She had never before paid any attention to George. Now she stopped and put out her hand. In two words she voiced what everyone felt. ‘Good luck,’ she said sharply and then turning went on her way.”

*

A dozen people waited about… it’s a dozen men who come to string up Wing Biddlebaum and Enoch Robinson’s “characters” number two dozen (about the number of main characters in Winesburg). Elizabeth Willard had about a half-dozen lovers before Tom Willard and Ray Pearson had half a dozen thin-legged children. “Dozen” occurs thirteen times.

Hands on shoulders

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.150 “George and Helen arose and walked away into the darkness. They went along a path past a field of corn that had not yet been cut. The wind whispered among the dry corn blades. For a moment during the walk back into town the spell that held them was broken. When they had come to the crest of Waterworks Hill they stopped by a tree and George again put his hands on the girl’s shoulders. She embraced him eagerly and then again they drew quickly back from that impulse. They stopped kissing and stood a little apart. Mutual respect grew big in them. They were both embarrassed and to relieve their embarrassment dropped into the animalism of youth. They laughed and began to pull and haul at each other. In some way chastened and purified by the mood they had been in, they became, not man and woman, not boy and girl, but excited little animals.”

*

“Little animals“… “In youth there are always two forces fighting in people. The warm unthinking little animal struggles against the thing that reflects and remembers, and the older, the more sophisticated thing had possession of George Willard.” (pp.148) The phrase also occurs in God (ii) and (iv), most especially with reference to the sacrificial lamb:

There was something in the helplessness of the little animal held so tightly in his arms that gave him courage. He could feel the rapid beating of the beast’s heart and that made his own heart beat less rapidly.

woman’s hand, took hold of her hand, hand on her shoulder

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.149 “In the darkness under the roof of the grand-stand, George Willard sat beside Helen White and felt very keenly his own insignificance in the scheme of existence. Now that he had come out of town where the presence of the people stirring about, busy with a multitude of affairs, had been so irritating, the irritation was all gone. The presence of Helen renewed and refreshed him. It was as though her woman’s hand was assisting him to make some minute readjustment of the machinery of his life. He began to think of the people in the town where he had always lived with something like reverence. He had reverence for Helen. He wanted to love and to be loved by her, but he did not want at the moment to be confused by her womanhood. In the darkness he took hold of her hand and when she crept close put a hand on her shoulder. A wind began to blow and he shivered. With all his strength he tried to hold and to understand the mood that had come upon him. In that high place in the darkness the two oddly sensitive human atoms held each other tightly and waited. In the mind of each was the same thought. ‘I have come to this lonely place and here is this other,’ was the substance of the thing felt.”

He took hold of her hand

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.148 “Helen arose and went into the house. At the door leading to a garden at the back she stopped and stood listening. Her mother began to talk. ‘There is no one here fit to associate with a girl of Helen’s breeding,’ she said.

Helen ran down a flight of stairs at the back of the house and into the garden. In the darkness she stopped and stood trembling. It seemed to her that the world was full of meaningless people saying words. Afire with eagerness she ran through a garden gate and, turning a corner by the banker’s barn, went into a little side street. ‘George! Where are you, George?’ she cried, filled with nervous excitement. She stopped running, and leaned against a tree to laugh hysterically. Along the dark little street came George Willard, still saying words. ‘I’m going to walk right into her house. I’ll go right in and sit down,’ he declared as he came up to her. He stopped and stared stupidly. ‘Come on,’ he said and took hold of her hand. With hanging heads they walked away along the street under the trees. Dry leaves rustled under foot. Now that he had found her George wondered what he had better do and say.”

*

“Saying words”… besides occuring twice here, the phrase occurs in Loneliness: “His room began to be inhabited by the spirits of men and women among whom he went, in his turn saying words.”

Wesley Moyer’s with a whip in his hand

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.147 “George felt so utterly lonely and dejected that he wanted to weep but pride made him walk rapidly along, swinging his arms. He came to Wesley Moyer’s livery barn and stopped in the shadows to listen to a group of men who talked of a race Wesley’s stallion, Tony Tip, had won at the Fair during the afternoon. A crowd had gathered in front of the barn and before the crowd walked Wesley, prancing up and down boasting. He held a whip in his hand and kept tapping the ground. Little puffs of dust arose in the lamplight. ‘Hell, quit your talking,’ Wesley exclaimed. ‘I wasn’t afraid, I knew I had ’em beat all the time. I wasn’t afraid.’

Ordinarily George Willard would have been intensely interested in the boasting of Moyer, the horseman. Now it made him angry. He turned and hurried away along the street. ‘Old windbag,’ he sputtered. ‘Why does he want to be bragging? Why don’t he shut up?’

*

Boasting comes up several times in this chapter and reminds of an interesting technique of Anderson’s in which a character and the omnicient narrator will use the same word in description of the same thing.

This isn’t exactly done here (where the narrator says “boasting” and the character says “bragging”) but check out “puttering” in The Untold Lie, where the narrator first says Ray Pearson is “puttering” then his wife scolds Ray for always “puttering”. The effect is a smoothing of the difference between reality (as it occurs in the fiction) and fictional characters’ perception of that reality; it tells us that the characters are seeing reality.

Hand put on her arm

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.146 “The summer evening together that had left its mark on the memory of both the young man and woman had, when looked at quite sensibly, been rather stupidly spent. They had walked out of town along a country road. Then they had stopped by a fence near a field of young corn and George had taken off his coat and let it hang on his arm. ‘Well, I’ve stayed here in Winesburg—yes—I’ve not yet gone away but I’m growing up,’ he had said. ‘I’ve been reading books and I’ve been thinking. I’m going to try to amount to something in life.

‘Well,’ he explained, ‘that isn’t the point. Perhaps I’d better quit talking.’ The confused boy put his hand on the girl’s arm. His voice trembled. The two started to walk back along the road toward town. In his desperation George boasted, ‘I’m going to be a big man, the biggest that ever lived here in Winesburg,’ he declared. ‘I want you to do something, I don’t know what. Perhaps it is none of my business. I want you to try to be different from other women. You see the point. It’s none of my business I tell you. I want you to be a beautiful woman. You see what I want.’

The boy’s voice failed and in silence the two came back into town and went along the street to Helen White’s house. At the gate he tried to say something impressive. Speeches he had thought out came into his head, but they seemed utterly pointless. ‘I thought—I used to think—I had it in my mind you would marry Seth Richmond. Now I know you won’t,’ was all he could find to say as she went through the gate and toward the door of her house.”

To touch and be touched with a hand

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.145 “The sadness of sophistication has come to the boy. With a little gasp he sees himself as merely a leaf blown by the wind through the streets of his village. He knows that in spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to wilt in the sun. He shivers and looks eagerly about. The eighteen years he has lived seem but a moment, a breathing space in the long march of humanity. Already he hears death calling. With all his heart he wants to come close to some other human, touch someone with his hands, be touched by the hand of another. If he prefers that the other be a woman, that is because he believes that a woman will be gentle, that she will understand. He wants, most of all, understanding.

*

“The age-old woman’s desire to be possessed had taken possession of her, but so vague was her notion of life that it seemed to her just the touch of John Hardy’s hand upon her own hand would satisfy.” (50)

Hand on the older boy’s arm

February 14, 2018

“Drink”, pp.134 “The reporter could not get the purpose of Tom Foster’s action straightened out in his mind. When Tom spoke again of Helen White he again grew angry and began to scold. ‘You quit that,’ he said sharply. ‘You haven’t been with her. What makes you say you have? What makes you keep saying such things? Now you quit it, do you hear?’

Tom was hurt. He couldn’t quarrel with George Willard because he was incapable of quarreling, so he got up to go away. When George Willard was insistent he put out his hand, laying it on the older boy’s arm, and tried to explain.

‘Well,’ he said softly, ‘I don’t know how it was. I was happy. You see how that was. Helen White made me happy and the night did too. I wanted to suffer, to be hurt somehow. I thought that was what I should do. I wanted to suffer, you see, because everyone suffers and does wrong. I thought of a lot of things to do, but they wouldn’t work. They all hurt someone else.'”

*

I wanted to suffer, you see, because everyone suffers and does wrong…. Somewhat brings to mind Dr. Parcival’s idea that everyone in the world is crucified and is Christ (?)

Twisted hands, hands holding pocket book

February 14, 2018

“Drink”, pp.128 “Then began the hard years for Tom Foster’s grandmother. First her son-in-law was killed by a policeman during a strike and then Tom’s mother became an invalid and died also. The grandmother had saved a little money, but it was swept away by the illness of the daughter and by the cost of the two funerals. She became a half worn-out old woman worker and lived with the grandson above a junk shop on a side street in Cincinnati. For five years she scrubbed the floors in an office building and then got a place as dish washer in a restaurant. Her hands were all twisted out of shape. When she took hold of a mop or a broom handle the hands looked like the dried stems of an old creeping vine clinging to a tree.

The old woman came back to Winesburg as soon as she got the chance. One evening as she was coming home from work she found a pocket-book containing thirty-seven dollars, and that opened the way. The trip was a great adventure for the boy. It was past seven o’clock at night when the grandmother came home with the pocket-book held tightly in her old hands and she was so excited she could scarcely speak. She insisted on leaving Cincinnati that night, saying that if they stayed until morning the owner of the money would be sure to find them out and make trouble.

*
An old creeping vine clinging to a tree, some suggestion of Dr. Reefy’s hands here.

The pocket-book held tightly in her old hands, again hands with “pocket” though a different association.

Hands on fence, in pockets, on coat lapel

February 13, 2018

“The Untold Lie”, pp.127 “Darkness began to spread over the fields as Ray Pearson ran on and on. His breath came in little sobs. When he came to the fence at the edge of the road and confronted Hal Winters, all dressed up and smoking a pipe as he walked jauntily along, he could not have told what he thought or what he wanted.

Ray Pearson lost his nerve and this is really the end of the story of what happened to him. It was almost dark when he got to the fence and he put his hands on the top bar and stood staring. Hal Winters jumped a ditch and coming up close to Ray put his hands into his pockets and laughed. He seemed to have lost his own sense of what had happened in the corn field and when he put up a strong hand and took hold of the lapel of Ray’s coat he shook the old man as he might have shaken a dog that had misbehaved.

‘You came to tell me, eh?’ he said. ‘Well, never mind telling me anything. I’m not a coward and I’ve already made up my mind.’ He laughed again and jumped back across the ditch. ‘Nell ain’t no fool,’ he said. “She didn’t ask me to marry her. I want to marry her. I want to settle down and have kids.’

Ray Pearson also laughed. He felt like laughing at himself and all the world.”

*

Pipes… Not a lot of pipe smoking goes on in Winesburg (George Willard brings a pipe out in The Thinker, Dr. Reefy smokes a cob pipe, we’re told, and Tom Foster’s grandmother smokes a clay pipe) but both Hal (here) and Ray (124) are said to smoke pipes. Tobacco smoking most arises as a theme in Winesburg with the story of Kate Swift, whose smoking in bed concerns Curtis Hartman (Strength of God.)

Farm hand, children’s clutching hands

February 13, 2018

“The Untold Lie”, pp.126-127 “The beauty of the country about Winesburg was too much for Ray on that fall evening. That is all there was to it. He could not stand it. Of a sudden he forgot all about being a quiet old farm hand and throwing off the torn overcoat began to run across the field. As he ran he shouted a protest against his life, against all life, against everything that makes life ugly. ‘There was no promise made,’ he cried into the empty spaces that lay about him. ‘I didn’t promise my Minnie anything and Hal hasn’t made any promise to Nell. I know he hasn’t. She went into the woods with him because she wanted to go. What he wanted she wanted. Why should I pay? Why should Hal pay? Why should anyone pay? I don’t want Hal to become old and worn out. I’ll tell him. I won’t let it go on. I’ll catch Hal before he gets to town and I’ll tell him.’

Ray ran clumsily and once he stumbled and fell down. ‘I must catch Hal and tell him,’ he kept thinking, and although his breath came in gasps he kept running harder and harder. As he ran he thought of things that hadn’t come into his mind for years—how at the time he married he had planned to go west to his uncle in Portland, Oregon—how he hadn’t wanted to be a farm hand, but had thought when he got out West he would go to sea and be a sailor or get a job on a ranch and ride a horse into Western towns, shouting and laughing and waking the people in the houses with his wild cries. Then as he ran he remembered his children and in fancy felt their hands clutching at him. All of his thoughts of himself were involved with the thoughts of Hal and he thought the children were clutching at the younger man also. ‘They are the accidents of life, Hal,’ he cried. ‘They are not mine or yours. I had nothing to do with them.’”

*

“They are the accidents of life”… ‘Accident’ occurs six times in Winesburg, most poignantly when Dr. Reefy adjures, echoing this passage, that ‘love is an accident of life’ (137):

The words of her one friend, Doctor Reefy, rang in her ears. “Love is like a wind stirring the grass beneath trees on a black night,” he had said. “You must not try to make love definite. It is the divine accident of life. If you try to be definite and sure about it and to live beneath the trees, where soft night winds blow, the long hot day of disappointment comes swiftly and the gritty dust from passing wagons gathers upon lips inflamed and made tender by kisses.”

Soiled cloth and three silver dollars

February 13, 2018

“The Untold Lie”, pp.126 “She only wanted him to go into town for groceries and as soon as she had told him what she wanted began to scold. ‘You’re always puttering,’ she said. ‘Now I want you to hustle. There isn’t anything in the house for supper and you’ve got to get to town and back in a hurry.’

Ray went into his own house and took an overcoat from a hook back of the door. It was torn about the pockets and the collar was shiny. His wife went into the bedroom and presently came out with a soiled cloth in one hand and three silver dollars in the other. Somewhere in the house a child wept bitterly and a dog that had been sleeping by the stove arose and yawned. Again the wife scolded. ‘The children will cry and cry. Why are you always puttering?’ she asked.”

*

Overcoat.“It was torn about the pockets and the collar was shiny…” Clear contrast with George’s new overcoat in the preceding tale (120) but unsure of what the shiny collar might be intended to convey.

fists

February 13, 2018

“The Untold Lie”, pp.126 “At half-past four that afternoon Ray was puttering about the barnyard when his wife came up the lane along the creek and called him. After the talk with Hal he hadn’t returned to the cornfield but worked about the barn. He had already done the evening chores and had seen Hal, dressed and ready for a roistering night in town, come out of the farmhouse and go into the road. Along the path to his own house he trudged behind his wife, looking at the ground and thinking. He couldn’t make out what was wrong. Every time he raised his eyes and saw the beauty of the country in the failing light he wanted to do something he had never done before, shout or scream or hit his wife with his fists or something equally unexpected and terrifying. Along the path he went scratching his head and trying to make it out. He looked hard at his wife’s back but she seemed all right.”

Hands on shoulders

February 13, 2018

“The Untold Lie”, pp.125 “Ray Pearson arose and stood staring. He was almost a foot shorter than Hal, and when the younger man came and put his two hands on the older man’s shoulders they made a picture. There they stood in the big empty field with the quiet corn shocks standing in rows behind them and the red and yellow hills in the distance, and from being just two indifferent workmen they had become all alive to each other. Hal sensed it and because that was his way he laughed. ‘Well, old daddy,’ he said awkwardly, ‘come on, advise me. I’ve got Nell in trouble. Perhaps you’ve been in the same fix yourself. I know what everyone would say is the right thing to do, but what do you say? Shall I marry and settle down? Shall I put myself into the harness to be worn out like an old horse? You know me, Ray. There can’t anyone break me but I can break myself. Shall I do it or shall I tell Nell to go to the devil? Come on, you tell me. Whatever you say, Ray, I’ll do.’

Ray couldn’t answer. He shook Hal’s hands loose and turning walked straight away toward the barn. He was a sensitive man and there were tears in his eyes. He knew there was only one thing to say to Hal Winters, son of old Windpeter Winters, only one thing that all his own training and all the beliefs of the people he knew would approve, but for his life he couldn’t say what he knew he should say. ”

*

Older man/ boy… “Older man” used two times beside here: when George Willard and Enoch Robinson are together Enoch is the “older man” (105); with Ed Handby and George Willard, Handby is the “older man”; with Tom Foster and George Willard, Willard is the “older boy.”

Chapped hands

February 13, 2018

“The Untold Lie”, pp.124 “And so these two men, Ray and Hal, were at work in a field on a day in the late October. They were husking corn and occasionally something was said and they laughed. Then came silence. Ray, who was the more sensitive and always minded things more, had chapped hands and they hurt. He put them into his coat pockets and looked away across the fields. He was in a sad, distracted mood and was affected by the beauty of the country. If you knew the Winesburg country in the fall and how the low hills are all splashed with yellows and reds you would understand his feeling. He began to think of the time, long ago when he was a young fellow living with his father, then a baker in Winesburg, and how on such days he had wandered away into the woods to gather nuts, hunt rabbits, or just to loaf about and smoke his pipe. His marriage had come about through one of his days of wandering. He had induced a girl who waited on trade in his father’s shop to go with him and something had happened. He was thinking of that afternoon and how it had affected his whole life when a spirit of protest awoke in him. He had forgotten about Hal and muttered words. ‘Tricked by Gad, that’s what I was, tricked by life and made a fool of,’ he said in a low voice.”

*

Pockets. Later Hal Winters puts his hands in his pockets (127).

(Bentley brothers’ cracked and red hands @ 30)

Fists

February 13, 2018

“The Untold Lie”, pp.124 “Hal was a bad one. Everyone said that. There were three of the Winters boys in that family, John, Hal, and Edward, all broad-shouldered big fellows like old Windpeter himself and all fighters and woman-chasers and generally all-around bad ones.

Hal was the worst of the lot and always up to some devilment. He once stole a load of boards from his father’s mill and sold them in Winesburg. With the money he bought himself a suit of cheap, flashy clothes. Then he got drunk and when his father came raving into town to find him, they met and fought with their fists on Main Street and were arrested and put into jail together.

Hal went to work on the Wills farm because there was a country school teacher out that way who had taken his fancy. He was only twenty-two then but had already been in two or three of what were spoken of in Winesburg as ‘women scrapes.’ Everyone who heard of his infatuation for the school teacher was sure it would turn out badly. ‘He’ll only get her into trouble, you’ll see,’ was the word that went around.'”

Farm hands

February 13, 2018

“The Untold Lie”, pp.123 “Ray Pearson and Hal Winters were farm hands employed on a farm three miles north of Winesburg. On Saturday afternoons they came into town and wandered about through the streets with other fellows from the country.”

*

Struggling for release from hands

February 13, 2018

“Queer”, pp. 122. “Elmer Cowley danced with fury beside the groaning train in the darkness on the station platform. Lights leaped into the air and bobbed up and down before his eyes. Taking the two ten-dollar bills from his pocket he thrust them into George Willard’s hand. ‘Take them,’ he cried. ‘I don’t want them. Give them to father. I stole them.’ With a snarl of rage he turned and his long arms began to flay the air. Like one struggling for release from hands that held him he struck out, hitting George Willard blow after blow on the breast, the neck, the mouth. The young reporter rolled over on the platform half unconscious, stunned by the terrific force of the blows. Springing aboard the passing train and running over the tops of cars, Elmer sprang down to a flat car and lying on his face looked back, trying to see the fallen man in the darkness. Pride surged up in him. ‘I showed him,’ he cried. ‘I guess I showed him. I ain’t so queer. I guess I showed him I ain’t so queer.'”

*

Mook the half wit says Elmer is going to hurt someone (120) — also suggested by the brandishing of the firearm — and he does ultimately at least try to hurt George Willard.

The reason given that Ed Handby doesn’t beat George Willard in the preceding chapter is (114): “The bartender did not want to beat the boy, who he thought had tried to take his woman away. He knew that beating was unnecessary, that he had power within himself to accomplish his purpose without using his fists.”

In the chapter before that is Kate Swift striking Willard’s face and, in the one before that, Kate Swift striking a pillow (either imagining it is Goerge Willard, our out of a frustration involving him.) (Do we know, incidentally, where the events described in An Awakening occur with respect to the events described in “Queer”?

Hand on the knob, thrust hands in overcoat pockets

February 13, 2018

“Queer”, pp. 120. “At eight o’clock that evening Elmer Cowley put his head in at the front door of the office of the Winesburg Eagle where George Willard sat writing. His cap was pulled down over his eyes and a sullen determined look was on his face. ‘You come on outside with me,’ he said, stepping in and closing the door. He kept his hand on the knob as though prepared to resist anyone else coming in. ‘You just come along outside. I want to see you.’

George Willard and Elmer Cowley walked through the main street of Winesburg. The night was cold and George Willard had on a new overcoat and looked very spruce and dressed up. He thrust his hands into the overcoat pockets and looked inquiringly at his companion. He had long been wanting to make friends with the young merchant and find out what was in his mind. Now he thought he saw a chance and was delighted. ‘I wonder what he’s up to? Perhaps he thinks he has a piece of news for the paper. It can’t be a fire because I haven’t heard the fire bell and there isn’t anyone running,’ he thought.”

*

From before:

The word thrust occurs eight times in Winesburg, only in two cases does it not involve a thrusting hand: Wash Williams “thrusts” seeds in the ground of his vegetable garden, Elmer Cowley “thrusts” two ten dollar bills into George Willard’s hand. All of the other mentions involve thrusting hands into pockets, as here, except for one, which is of Elizabeth Willard thrusting her hand from out of the bed covers (extending a hand out to death.)

Miserable in Body and Mind

February 13, 2018

“Queer”, pp. 118. “Sullenly the tall young man tramped along the road with his hands stuffed into his trouser pockets. The day was cold with a raw wind, but presently the sun began to shine and the road became soft and muddy. The tops of the ridges of frozen mud that formed the road began to melt and the mud clung to Elmer’s shoes. His feet became cold. When he had gone several miles he turned off the road, crossed a field and entered a wood. In the wood he gathered sticks to build a fire, by which he sat trying to warm himself, miserable in body and in mind.”

*

and the mud clung to Elmer’s shoes… Why did Elmer have his shoe in his hand earlier? (He had been re-lacing his shoes, 115.)

Fastened the shoe his hand had been holding

February 13, 2018

“Queer”, pp. 117. “In the store Elmer Cowley and his father stared at each other. Now that the immediate object of his wrath had fled, the younger man was embarrassed. ‘Well, I meant it. I think we’ve been queer long enough,’ he declared, going to the showcase and replacing the revolver. Sitting on a barrel he pulled on and fastened the shoe he had been holding in his hand. He was waiting for some word of understanding from his father but when Ebenezer spoke his words only served to reawaken the wrath in the son and the young man ran out of the store without replying. Scratching his grey beard with his long dirty fingers, the merchant looked at his son with the same wavering uncertain stare with which he had confronted the traveling man. “I’ll be starched,” he said softly. ‘Well, well, I’ll be washed and ironed and starched!'”

Fastening with one hand a shirt collar, shoe in his hand

February 10, 2018

“Queer”, pp. 116. “In the store on the morning when Elmer Cowley saw George Willard standing and apparently listening at the back door of the Eagle printshop, a situation had arisen that always stirred the son’s wrath. The traveling man talked and Ebenezer listened, his whole figure expressing uncertainty. ‘You see how quickly it is done,’ said the traveling man, who had for sale a small flat metal substitute for collar buttons. With one hand he quickly unfastened a collar from his shirt and then fastened it on again. He assumed a flattering wheedling tone. ‘I tell you what, men have come to the end of all this fooling with collar buttons and you are the man to make money out of the change that is coming. I am offering you the exclusive agency for this town. Take twenty dozen of these fasteners and I’ll not visit any other store. I’ll leave the field to you.’

The traveling man leaned over the counter and tapped with his finger on Ebenezer’s breast. ‘It’s an opportunity and I want you to take it,’ he urged. ‘A friend of mine told me about you. “See that man Cowley,” he said. “He’s a live one.”‘

The traveling man paused and waited. Taking a book from his pocket he began writing out the order. Still holding the shoe in his hand Elmer Cowley went through the store, past the two absorbed men, to a glass showcase near the front door. He took a cheap revolver from the case and began to wave it about. ‘You get out of here!’ he shrieked. ‘We don’t want any collar fasteners here.’ An idea came to him. ‘Mind, I’m not making any threat,’ he added. ‘I don’t say I’ll shoot. Maybe I just took this gun out of the case to look at it. But you better get out. Yes sir, I’ll say that. You better grab up your things and get out.’

*

This is the fourth time we’re told Elmer is holding a shoe in his hand.

Shoe in hand, trembling hands

February 10, 2018

“Queer”, pp. 115. “From his seat on a box in the rough board shed that stuck like a burr on the rear of Cowley & Son’s store in Winesburg, Elmer Cowley, the junior member of the firm, could see through a dirty window into the printshop of the Winesburg Eagle. Elmer was putting new shoelaces in his shoes. They did not go in readily and he had to take the shoes off. With the shoes in his hand he sat looking at a large hole in the heel of one of his stockings. Then looking quickly up he saw George Willard, the only newspaper reporter in Winesburg, standing at the back door of the Eagle printshop and staring absentmindedly about. ‘Well, well, what next!’ exclaimed the young man with the shoes in his hand, jumping to his feet and creeping away from the window.

A flush crept into Elmer Cowley’s face and his hands began to tremble. In Cowley & Son’s store a Jewish traveling salesman stood by the counter talking to his father. He imagined the reporter could hear what was being said and the thought made him furious. With one of the shoes still held in his hand he stood in a corner of the shed and stamped with a stockinged foot upon the board floor.”

put up his hands, held him with one hand, hands and knees, fists

February 9, 2018

An Awakening, pp. 114. ” George Willard did not understand what happened to him that night on the hillside. Later, when he got to his own room, he wanted to weep and then grew half insane with anger and hate. He hated Belle Carpenter and was sure that all his life he would continue to hate her. On the hillside he had led the woman to one of the little open spaces among the bushes and had dropped to his knees beside her. As in the vacant lot, by the laborers’ houses, he had put up his hands in gratitude for the new power in himself and was waiting for the woman to speak when Ed Handby appeared.

The bartender did not want to beat the boy, who he thought had tried to take his woman away. He knew that beating was unnecessary, that he had power within himself to accomplish his purpose without using his fists. Gripping George by the shoulder and pulling him to his feet, he held him with one hand while he looked at Belle Carpenter seated on the grass. Then with a quick wide movement of his arm he sent the younger man sprawling away into the bushes and began to bully the woman, who had risen to her feet. ‘You’re no good,’ he said roughly. ‘I’ve half a mind not to bother with you. I’d let you alone if I didn’t want you so much.’

On his hands and knees in the bushes George Willard stared at the scene before him and tried hard to think. He prepared to spring at the man who had humiliated him. To be beaten seemed to be infinitely better than to be thus hurled ignominiously aside.

Three times the young reporter sprang at Ed Handby and each time the bartender, catching him by the shoulder, hurled him back into the bushes. The older man seemed prepared to keep the exercise going indefinitely but George Willard’s head struck the root of a tree and he lay still. Then Ed Handby took Belle Carpenter by the arm and marched her away.”

*

What’s so surprising in this passage is the word ‘bully’, which we haven’t heard since the beginning of the chapter, and indeed occurs only twice in the book. It seems that the behavior Belle Carpenter will accept from a husband or lover the behavior she will not accept from her father, and she seems indeed another character in some part held captive by the spirit of her mother.

George Willard’s head struck the root of a tree … Elsewhere David Hardy trips on some roots (running from his grandfather) and strikes his head on something unnamed.

On hands and knees… only other occurrence of the phrase is an An Adventure (pp.67). George Willard begins this scene on his knees raising his hands “in gratitude”, ends it on hands and knees, humiliated.

Hands into his pockets, “Thrusting”

February 9, 2018

An Awakening, pp. 113. “For an hour Belle Carpenter and the young reporter walked about under the trees in the sweet night air. George Willard was full of big words. The sense of power that had come to him during the hour in the darkness in the alleyway remained with him and he talked boldly, swaggering along and swinging his arms about. He wanted to make Belle Carpenter realize that he was aware of his former weakness and that he had changed. ‘You’ll find me different,’ he declared, thrusting his hands into his pockets and looking boldly into her eyes. ‘I don’t know why but it is so. You’ve got to take me for a man or let me alone. That’s how it is.'”

*
Other characters that put their hands in their pockets: Wing Biddlebaum, Seth Richmond, Elmer Cowley, Ray Pearson.

The word thrust occurs eight times in Winesburg, only in two cases does it not involve a thrusting hand: Wash Williams “thrusts” seeds in the ground of his vegetable garden, Elmer Cowley “thrusts” two ten dollar bills into George Willard’s hand. All of the other mentions involve thrusting hands into pockets, as here, except for one, which is of Elizabeth Willard thrusting her hand from out of the bed covers (extending a hand to death.)

Head in his hands

February 9, 2018

An Awakening, pp. 113. “When her lover had departed Belle went indoors and ran hurriedly upstairs. From a window at the upper part of the house she saw Ed Handby cross the street and sit down on a horse block before the house of a neighbor. In the dim light the man sat motionless holding his head in his hands. She was made happy by the sight, and when George Willard came to the door she greeted him effusively and hurriedly put on her hat. She thought that, as she walked through the streets with young Willard, Ed Handby would follow and she wanted to make him suffer.”

*

The phrase “head in his hand(s)” occurs only once elsewhere in Winesburg and that in the preceding chapter. (Although perhaps having a head in a hand is completely different from having a head in one’s hands. Using a somewhat different wording, maybe indicating something slightly different, Elizabeth Willard also puts her head in her hands (pp.14).

Hands in darkness, shaking hands, holding a woman’s hand

February 9, 2018

An Awakening, pp. 112. “The excited young man, unable to bear the weight of his own thoughts, began to move cautiously along the alleyway. A dog attacked him and had to be driven away with stones, and a man appeared at the door of one of the houses and swore at the dog. George went into a vacant lot and throwing back his head looked up at the sky. He felt unutterably big and remade by the simple experience through which he had been passing and in a kind of fervor of emotion put up his hands, thrusting them into the darkness above his head and muttering words. The desire to say words overcame him and he said words without meaning, rolling them over on his tongue and saying them because they were brave words, full of meaning. ‘Death,’ he muttered, ‘night, the sea, fear, loveliness.’

George Willard came out of the vacant lot and stood again on the sidewalk facing the houses. He felt that all of the people in the little street must be brothers and sisters to him and he wished he had the courage to call them out of their houses and to shake their hands. ‘If there were only a woman here I would take hold of her hand and we would run until we were both tired out,’ he thought. ‘That would make me feel better.’ With the thought of a woman in his mind he walked out of the street and went toward the house where Belle Carpenter lived. He thought she would understand his mood and that he could achieve in her presence a position he had long been wanting to achieve. In the past when he had been with her and had kissed her lips he had come away filled with anger at himself. He had felt like one being used for some obscure purpose and had not enjoyed the feeling. Now he thought he had suddenly become too big to be used.”

*

Hand in the Darkness“In the darkness he could not see the hands and they became quiet” (9); “In the darkness of her own room she clenched her fists and glared about” (17); “in the darkness under the trees, they took hold of her hand” (17); “but sometimes in the darkness as they went stolidly along she put out her hand and touched softly the folds of his coat” (66); “he raised a hand and with it groped about in the darkness. ‘I have missed something’.” (99) (see note there on “groping”); “put up his hands, thrusting them into the darkness above his head and muttering words” (112); “The tall beautiful girl with the swinging stride who had walked under the trees with men was forever putting out her hand into the darkness and trying to get hold of some other hand” (138); ” In the darkness of her room she put out her hand, thrusting it from under the covers of her bed, and she thought that death like a living thing put out his hand to her” (140); “In the darkness he took hold of her hand and when she crept close put a hand on her shoulder” (149);

Section hands

February 9, 2018

An Awakening, pp. 111. “In Winesburg, as in all Ohio towns of twenty years ago, there was a section in which lived day laborers. As the time of factories had not yet come, the laborers worked in the fields or were section hands on the railroads. They worked twelve hours a day and received one dollar for the long day of toil. The houses in which they lived were small cheaply constructed wooden affairs with a garden at the back. The more comfortable among them kept cows and perhaps a pig, housed in a little shed at the rear of the garden.”

Strong hands

February 9, 2018

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.)

Fists

February 9, 2018

An Awakening, pp. 109. “Handby, the bartender, was a tall, broad-shouldered man of thirty who lived in a room upstairs above Griffith’s saloon. His fists were large and his eyes unusually small, but his voice, as though striving to conceal the power back of his fists, was soft and quiet.

At twenty-five the bartender had inherited a large farm from an uncle in Indiana. When sold, the farm brought in eight thousand dollars, which Ed spent in six months. Going to Sandusky, on Lake Erie, he began an orgy of dissipation, the story of which afterward filled his home town with awe. Here and there he went throwing the money about, driving carriages through the streets, giving wine parties to crowds of men and women, playing cards for high stakes and keeping mistresses whose wardrobes cost him hundreds of dollars. One night at a resort called Cedar Point, he got into a fight and ran amuck like a wild thing. With his fist he broke a large mirror in the wash room of a hotel and later went about smashing windows and breaking chairs in dance halls for the joy of hearing the glass rattle on the floor and seeing the terror in the eyes of clerks who had come from Sandusky to spend the evening at the resort with their sweethearts.”

*

Faint echo of Rev. Hartman’s window breaking with a fist here.

Handful

February 9, 2018

An Awakening, pp. 108. “The bank cashier was a little bully and was afraid of his daughter. She, he realized, knew the story of his brutal treatment of her mother and hated him for it. One day she went home at noon and carried a handful of soft mud, taken from the road, into the house. With the mud she smeared the face of the boards used for the pressing of trousers and then went back to her work feeling relieved and happy.”

Fists

February 9, 2018

An Awakening, pp. 108. “Belle Carpenter had a dark skin, grey eyes, and thick lips. She was tall and strong. When black thoughts visited her she grew angry and wished she were a man and could fight someone with her fists. She worked in the millinery shop kept by Mrs. Kate McHugh and during the day sat trimming hats by a window at the rear of the store. She was the daughter of Henry Carpenter, bookkeeper in the First National Bank of Winesburg, and lived with him in a gloomy old house far out at the end of Buckeye Street. The house was surrounded by pine trees and there was no grass beneath the trees. A rusty tin eaves-trough had slipped from its fastenings at the back of the house and when the wind blew it beat against the roof of a small shed, making a dismal drumming noise that sometimes persisted all through the night.”

Her hands were so strong

February 8, 2018

Loneliness, pp. 106. “‘I had a feeling about her. She sat there in the room with me and she was too big for the room. I felt that she was driving everything else away. We just talked of little things, but I couldn’t sit still. I wanted to touch her with my fingers and to kiss her. Her hands were so strong and her face was so good and she looked at me all the time.’

The trembling voice of the old man became silent and his body shook as from a chill. ‘I was afraid,’ he whispered. ‘I was terribly afraid. I didn’t want to let her come in when she knocked at the door but I couldn’t sit still. “No, no,” I said to myself, but I got up and opened the door just the same. She was so grown up, you see. She was a woman. I thought she would be bigger than I was there in that room.'”

Head in his hand

February 8, 2018

Loneliness, pp. 105. “It was past eleven o’clock that evening when old Enoch, talking to George Willard in the room in the Heffner Block, came to the vital thing, the story of the woman and of what drove him out of the city to live out his life alone and defeated in Winesburg. He sat on a cot by the window with his head in his hand and George Willard was in a chair by a table. A kerosene lamp sat on the table and the room, although almost bare of furniture, was scrupulously clean. As the man talked George Willard began to feel that he would like to get out of the chair and sit on the cot also. He wanted to put his arms about the little old man. In the half darkness the man talked and the boy listened, filled with sadness.”

Woman with a sword in her hand

February 8, 2018

Loneliness, pp. 104. “And so Enoch Robinson stayed in the New York room among the people of his fancy, playing with them, talking to them, happy as a child is happy. They were an odd lot, Enoch’s people. They were made, I suppose, out of real people he had seen and who had for some obscure reason made an appeal to him. There was a woman with a sword in her hand, an old man with a long white beard who went about followed by a dog, a young girl whose stockings were always coming down and hanging over her shoe tops. There must have been two dozen of the shadow people, invented by the child-mind of Enoch Robinson, who lived in the room with him.”

*

Sword in her hand… In Book of the Grotesque a woman is said to wear a coat of mail:

He was like a pregnant woman, only that the thing inside him was not a baby but a youth. No, it wasn’t a youth, it was a woman, young, and wearing a coat of mail like a knight.

To touch actual people with his hands

February 8, 2018

Loneliness, pp. 103. “The mild, blue-eyed young Ohio boy was a complete egotist, as all children are egotists. He did not want friends for the quite simple reason that no child wants friends. He wanted most of all the people of his own mind, people with whom he could really talk, people he could harangue and scold by the hour, servants, you see, to his fancy. Among these people he was always self-confident and bold. They might talk, to be sure, and even have opinions of their own, but always he talked last and best. He was like a writer busy among the figures of his brain, a kind of tiny blue-eyed king he was, in a six-dollar room facing Washington Square in the city of New York.

Then Enoch Robinson got married. He began to get lonely and to want to touch actual flesh-and-bone people with his hands. Days passed when his room seemed empty. Lust visited his body and desire grew in his mind. At night strange fevers, burning within, kept him awake. He married a girl who sat in a chair next to his own in the art school and went to live in an apartment house in Brooklyn. Two children were born to the woman he married, and Enoch got a job in a place where illustrations are made for advertisements.”

Hand that groped in the darkness

February 8, 2018

The Teacher, pp. 99. “George blew out the lamp by the window and locking the door of the printshop went home. Through the hotel office, past Hop Higgins lost in his dream of the raising of ferrets, he went and up into his own room. The fire in the stove had gone out and he undressed in the cold. When he got into bed the sheets were like blankets of dry snow.

George Willard rolled about in the bed on which he had lain in the afternoon hugging the pillow and thinking thoughts of Kate Swift. The words of the minister, who he thought had gone suddenly insane, rang in his ears. His eyes stared about the room. The resentment, natural to the baffled male, passed and he tried to understand what had happened. He could not make it out. Over and over he turned the matter in his mind. Hours passed and he began to think it must be time for another day to come. At four o’clock he pulled the covers up about his neck and tried to sleep. When he became drowsy and closed his eyes, he raised a hand and with it groped about in the darkness. ‘I have missed something. I have missed something Kate Swift was trying to tell me,’ he muttered sleepily. Then he slept and in all Winesburg he was the last soul on that winter night to go to sleep.”

*

Evokes Death pp.138: his mother “forever putting out her hand into the darkness and trying to get hold of some other hand.”

But even more, pp.16: ” “He is groping about, trying to find himself,” [Elizabeth Willard] thought. “He is not a dull clod, all words and smartness. Within him there is a secret something that is striving to grow. It is the thing I let be killed in myself.”

Curtis Hartman, pp.90: “The Lord has devised this temptation as a test of my soul and I will grope my way out of darkness into the light of righteousness.”

There’s one other use of “groping” in Winesburg — Louise Bentley groping for the door of the closet she’s hidden in.

He put his hand on her shoulder

February 8, 2018

The Teacher, pp. 98. “In the newspaper office a confusion arose. Kate Swift turned and walked to the door. She was a teacher but she was also a woman. As she looked at George Willard, the passionate desire to be loved by a man, that had a thousand times before swept like a storm over her body, took possession of her. In the lamplight George Willard looked no longer a boy, but a man ready to play the part of a man.

The school teacher let George Willard take her into his arms. In the warm little office the air became suddenly heavy and the strength went out of her body. Leaning against a low counter by the door she waited. When he came and put a hand on her shoulder she turned and let her body fall heavily against him. For George Willard the confusion was immediately increased. For a moment he held the body of the woman tightly against his body and then it stiffened. Two sharp little fists began to beat on his face. When the school teacher had run away and left him alone, he walked up and down the office swearing furiously.

It was into this confusion that the Reverend Curtis Hartman protruded himself. When he came in George Willard thought the town had gone mad. Shaking a bleeding fist in the air, the minister proclaimed the woman George had only a moment before held in his arms an instrument of God bearing a message of truth.”

*

“Protrude”… I find the use of protrude here somewhat strange. The word occurs four other times in the book (Dr. Parcival’s cigars protrude from his pocket, Elmer Cowley’s teeth protrude…) in senses I find more common.

“Fists”…Kate here uses her fists to punch George’s face, then (in the chapter preceding) she punches the pillow with her fists, just as the reverend breaks the window with his fist, resulting in the bleeding fist.

“Storm”… appearing ten times in Winesburg, mainly in the stories about Kate Swift and Helen White, the one exception being the account of Elizabeth Willard’s mad driving of the carriage.

“Confus(ion)”… is another word with some interesting associations, occurring 17 times in Winesburg, but I think never more densely than in this chapter.

Her hands took hold of his shoulders

February 8, 2018

The Teacher, pp. 98. “On the night of the storm and while the minister sat in the church waiting for her, Kate Swift went to the office of the Winesburg Eagle, intending to have another talk with the boy. After the long walk in the snow she was cold, lonely, and tired. As she came through Main Street she saw the fight from the printshop window shining on the snow and on an impulse opened the door and went in. For an hour she sat by the stove in the office talking of life. She talked with passionate earnestness. The impulse that had driven her out into the snow poured itself out into talk. She became inspired as she sometimes did in the presence of the children in school. A great eagerness to open the door of life to the boy, who had been her pupil and who she thought might possess a talent for the understanding of life, had possession of her. So strong was her passion that it became something physical. Again her hands took hold of his shoulders and she turned him about. In the dim light her eyes blazed. She arose and laughed, not sharply as was customary with her, but in a queer, hesitating way. ‘I must be going,’ she said. ‘In a moment, if I stay, I’ll be wanting to kiss you.’

*

Wing Biddlebaum, the books other teacher, also lays his hands on George Willard’s shoulders (pp.7). She had previously taken hold of his shoulders (but not specifically with her hands) on pp.97:

“You will have to know life,” she declared, and her voice trembled with earnestness. She took hold of George Willard’s shoulders and turned him about so that she could look into his eyes. A passer-by might have thought them about to embrace. “If you are to become a writer you’ll have to stop fooling with words,” she explained.

Took hold of his hand

February 8, 2018

The Teacher, pp. 97. “On the evening before that stormy Thursday night when the Reverend Curtis Hartman sat in the bell tower of the church waiting to look at her body, young Willard had gone to visit the teacher and to borrow a book. It was then the thing happened that confused and puzzled the boy. He had the book under his arm and was preparing to depart. Again Kate Swift talked with great earnestness. Night was coming on and the light in the room grew dim. As he turned to go she spoke his name softly and with an impulsive movement took hold of his hand. Because the reporter was rapidly becoming a man something of his man’s appeal, combined with the winsomeness of the boy, stirred the heart of the lonely woman. A passionate desire to have him understand the import of life, to learn to interpret it truly and honestly, swept over her. Leaning forward, her lips brushed his cheek. At the same moment he for the first time became aware of the marked beauty of her features. They were both embarrassed, and to relieve her feeling she became harsh and domineering. ‘What’s the use? It will be ten years before you begin to understand what I mean when I talk to you,’ she cried passionately.”

Hands clasped behind back

February 8, 2018

The Teacher, pp. 96. “There was something biting and forbidding in the character of Kate Swift. Everyone felt it. In the schoolroom she was silent, cold, and stern, and yet in an odd way very close to her pupils. Once in a long while something seemed to have come over her and she was happy. All of the children in the schoolroom felt the effect of her happiness. For a time they did not work but sat back in their chairs and looked at her.

With hands clasped behind her back the school teacher walked up and down in the schoolroom and talked very rapidly. It did not seem to matter what subject came into her mind. Once she talked to the children of Charles Lamb and made up strange, intimate little stories concerning the life of the dead writer. The stories were told with the air of one who had lived in a house with Charles Lamb and knew all the secrets of his private life. The children were somewhat confused, thinking Charles Lamb must be someone who had once lived in Winesburg.”

fists, bleeding fist

February 7, 2018

Strength of God, pp. 91-92.“On the January night, after he had come near dying with cold and after his mind had two or three times actually slipped away into an odd land of fantasy so that he had by an exercise of will power to force himself back into consciousness, Kate Swift appeared. In the room next door a lamp was lighted and the waiting man stared into an empty bed. Then upon the bed before his eyes a naked woman threw herself. Lying face downward she wept and beat with her fists upon the pillow. With a final outburst of weeping she half arose, and in the presence of the man who had waited to look and not to think thoughts the woman of sin began to pray. In the lamplight her figure, slim and strong, looked like the figure of the boy in the presence of the Christ on the leaded window.

Curtis Hartman never remembered how he got out of the church. With a cry he arose, dragging the heavy desk along the floor. The Bible fell, making a great clatter in the silence. When the light in the house next door went out he stumbled down the stairway and into the street. Along the street he went and ran in at the door of the Winesburg Eagle. To George Willard, who was tramping up and down in the office undergoing a struggle of his own, he began to talk half incoherently. ‘The ways of God are beyond human understanding,’ he cried, running in quickly and closing the door. He began to advance upon the young man, his eyes glowing and his voice ringing with fervor. ‘I have found the light,’ he cried. ‘After ten years in this town, God has manifested himself to me in the body of a woman.’ His voice dropped and he began to whisper. ‘I did not understand,’ he said. ‘What I took to be a trial of my soul was only a preparation for a new and more beautiful fervor of the spirit. God has appeared to me in the person of Kate Swift, the school teacher, kneeling naked on a bed. Do you know Kate Swift? Although she may not be aware of it, she is an instrument of God, bearing the message of truth.”

Reverend Curtis Hartman turned and ran out of the office. At the door he stopped, and after looking up and down the deserted street, turned again to George Willard. ‘I am delivered. Have no fear.’ He held up a bleeding fist for the young man to see. ‘I smashed the glass of the window,’ he cried. ‘Now it will have to be wholly replaced. The strength of God was in me and I broke it with my fist.’”

*

Hartman’s vision of God seems to be the same as that mentioned by the drunkard in Tandy.

Hand of God

February 7, 2018

Strength of God, pp. 88. “Curtis Hartman forgot his sermon on that Sunday morning. He talked to his congregation and in his talk said that it was a mistake for people to think of their minister as a man set aside and intended by nature to lead a blameless life. ‘Out of my own experience I know that we, who are the ministers of God’s word, are beset by the same temptations that assail you,’ he declared. ‘I have been tempted and have surrendered to temptation. It is only the hand of God, placed beneath my head, that has raised me up. As he has raised me so also will he raise you. Do not despair. In your hour of sin raise your eyes to the skies and you will be again and again saved.”

*

“Hand of God” was last seen in Godliness (i). “Temptation” is a word that occurs only in this chapter.

Hand raising window shade

February 7, 2018

Strength of God, pp. 88. “In the soul of the minister a struggle awoke. From wanting to reach the ears of Kate Swift, and through his sermons to delve into her soul, he began to want also to look again at the figure lying white and quiet in the bed. On a Sunday morning when he could not sleep because of his thoughts he arose and went to walk in the streets. When he had gone along Main Street almost to the old Richmond place he stopped and picking up a stone rushed off to the room in the bell tower. With the stone he broke out a corner of the window and then locked the door and sat down at the desk before the open Bible to wait. When the shade of the window to Kate Swift’s room was raised he could see, through the hole, directly into her bed, but she was not there. She also had arisen and had gone for a walk and the hand that raised the shade was the hand of Aunt Elizabeth Swift.”

*

We see the hand of Aunt Swift a second time in Death (142), there holding George Willard’s hand.

A book that had fallen into his hands

February 7, 2018

Strength of God, pp. 87. “The school teacher [Kate Swift] was thirty years old and had a neat trim-looking figure. She had few friends and bore a reputation of having a sharp tongue. When he began to think about her, Curtis Hartman remembered that she had been to Europe and had lived for two years in New York City. “Perhaps after all her smoking means nothing,” he thought. He began to remember that when he was a student in college and occasionally read novels, good although somewhat worldly women, had smoked through the pages of a book that had once fallen into his hands. With a rush of new determination he worked on his sermons all through the week and forgot, in his zeal to reach the ears and the soul of this new listener, both his embarrassment in the pulpit and the necessity of prayer in the study on Sunday mornings.”

*

Forgot both embarrassment and necessity for prayer… like Wing Biddlebaum “forgetting” his hands? You must try to forget all you’ve learned, Wing counsels young Willard (7). Looking casually at “forg(etting)” in Winesburg it occurrs in all sorts of pregnant senses, about forty times.

Christ laying his hand on the head of a child

February 7, 2018

Strength of God, pp. 87. “The room in the bell tower of the church, where on Sunday mornings the minister prayed for an increase in him of the power of God, had but one window. It was long and narrow and swung outward on a hinge like a door. On the window, made of little leaded panes, was a design showing the Christ laying his hand upon the head of a child. One Sunday morning in the summer as he sat by his desk in the room with a large Bible opened before him, and the sheets of his sermon scattered about, the minister was shocked to see, in the upper room of the house next door, a woman lying in her bed and smoking a cigarette while she read a book. Curtis Hartman went on tiptoe to the window and closed it softly. He was horror stricken at the thought of a woman smoking and trembled also to think that his eyes, just raised from the pages of the book of God, had looked upon the bare shoulders and white throat of a woman. With his brain in a whirl he went down into the pulpit and preached a long sermon without once thinking of his gestures or his voice. The sermon attracted unusual attention because of its power and clearness. ‘I wonder if she is listening, if my voice is carrying a message into her soul,’ he thought and began to hope that on future Sunday mornings he might be able to say words that would touch and awaken the woman apparently far gone in secret sin.”

“On the other hand”

February 7, 2018

Strength of God, pp. 86. “For a good many years after he came to Winesburg things went well with Curtis Hartman. He was not one to arouse keen enthusiasm among the worshipers in his church but on the other hand he made no enemies. In reality he was much in earnest and sometimes suffered prolonged periods of remorse because he could not go crying the word of God in the highways and byways of the town.”

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“On the other hand” occurs only here. “On the one hand” does not occur.