Winesburg, Ohio: Novel Summary: Hands

Wing Biddlebaum, a forty-year-old man, lives on the outskirts of Winesburg and has little involvement in the community in which he has lived for twenty years. Wing is the kind of man who talks a lot with his hands. He has “slender expressive fingers, forever active,” and his natural tendency is to gesticulate a lot as he speaks. His story is “a story of hands.” When he was younger, he was a gifted schoolteacher in Pennsylvania, much loved by the boys at his school. Wings name was then Adolph Myers. However, a disturbed, half-witted boy said that Myers molested him. Since he did have a tendency to touch students in an affectionate way, people believed this boy. A man from the town named Henry Bradford came to the school and beat Myers up. Then in the night, a dozen men came to Myerss door with a rope in their hands, intending to lynch him, but he managed to escape. He moved to Winesburg and made up a new name. Now, he is afraid of letting his hands do whatever they like, so he tries to keep them contained. His only friend is the young reporter, George Willard, who sometimes comes to talk to him.
Wing is a grotesque because he has constrained his hands, instruments of affection and gentleness, with the truth that a man should not lay hands on another. He has been warped by his efforts to keep himself confined within that truth.