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Isolation in Winesburg Ohio

In 1919, Sherwood Anderson composed his work Winesburg Ohio, which depicts the inner lives of small-town America. Anderson’s fascination to explore what’s beneath the surface of human lives results in another story in 1933 called “Death In The Woods”. These two works, incidentally, share a common theme of isolation. The characters in these works, are portrayed as “grotesques” or people who live their lives by one truth, thus living a life of falsehood and isolation from the rest of the world. This essay will examine the theme of isolation in the two works described, and will also relate it to Anderson’s idea of the “grotesque”. In Winesburg Ohio, the reader is first introduced to “The Book of the Grotesque”. This introductory chapter, provides the reader with what might be considered a summary of the characters in the novel itself. The elderly writer, who has obviously seen and experienced a lot of the world’s turmoils, e.g. The Civil War , has been haunted by the faces of all the people he has ever known. The faces of these people are twisted and distorted, and ultimately appear “grotesque” to the elderly writer: It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.” (p.24).In relation to the theme of isolation in this novel, Anderson uses this chapter to illustrate how the characters in the town of Winesburg should be perceived. Characters that are “grotesque” because they live their lives by a single “truth” that prevents them from maturing, developing, and ultimately growing into what Anderson would cons...

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