Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson "Trapped in Your Mind"

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Trapped in your mind

In his collection of short stories, Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson explores the lives of the characters living in a closed society of a small town. It is a society that struggles to overcome loneliness and isolation. In the stories “Mother” and “Adventure”, the author examines what happens when individuals lose their connection with the rest of the town’s inhabitants. Both Elizabeth Willard, an unhappily married woman and Alice Hindman, a woman in her twenties, are isolated from the townies, and are found in an unhappy and unsatisfied life. Even though both characters find themselves trapped in their minds, they experience and face their solitude in different ways. To start with, Elizabeth Willard displays a blatantly alienated personality. She is not well adjusted and outgoing as she used to be. This happens because she had, at one time in her youth, felt a bond to the travelling men who had stayed at the Willard house and had romanced her. The story mentions that “they seemed to understand and sympathize with her.” In maturity, though, she has not such bond with anyone, not even her husband or her son. Hence, she hides upstairs, hoping not to be seen. Conversely, Alice Hindman has a moment of revelation after some years of waiting for her true love to come back. This revelation makes her realise that her beauty and freshness of youth has passed and becomes frightened by the thought of being alone. Therefore, Alice responds to her isolation by joining a church for the purpose of “becoming acquainted with people”, whereas Elizabeth never tries to face her life of solitude.

Another aspect in which loneliness is seen is through their different actions. For instance, when Elizabeth remembers a contest between a bearded man and a cat that she always sees through her window, she compares it with her life “it seems like a rehearsal of her own life, terrible in its vividness.” For this reason, the author implies that she sees her life...
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