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Sherwood Anderson

Sherwood Anderson is identified as the “Father of Realism”, the master of characterization, and the creator of the epiphany. He broke through the barriers of Classic American Literature and introduced a style that is focused on distinct moments. Although remarkable, many of his stories lack the traditional structure of plot. Instead Anderson states that these single bursts of inspiration are the stories of people, and are therefore to be left untouched upon completion. His crowning achievement, Winesburg, Ohio, is a collection of anecdotes focusing on a town of “grotesques”. These tragically hopeless people cannot convey their passion to others. Each has centered his or her life around a profound truth that only he or she is able to recognize; the response the grotesque receives concerning this understanding inevitably leads to their tribulation. Lonely recluses, they continuously struggle with their contained feelings. Anderson portrays moments in which the passion tries to resurface, but no longer has the strength to do so. In essence, these “adventures” are tiny glimpses of failure. The grotesques each represent “a moment, a mood, or a secret that lay deep in Anderson’s life and for which he was finding the right words for at last.” (4) The book is Anderson’s form of expression, not unlike the hands of the main character in his most acclaimed piece: “Hands”. In this story, a little man, Wing Biddlebaum, lives isolated from the town of Winesburg. His solitude is a result of a tragic experience years before. He had been a gifted schoolteacher who motivated young boys with his hands until one young student spread wild rumors about him. The Pennsylvanian town was quick to accept the rumors as truth, and Wing was violently assaulted. Many years later, the compassionate Wing endures the tremulous life of a recluse in Winesburg. In response to his li...

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