The main character has speaking name Wing Biddlebaum (antonomasia), so it underlines the importance of his hands and personifies freedom. What draws the reader’s attention is that fact that hands play almost the main role in the life of the character. Wing Biddlebaum talked much with his hands (personification). The slender expressive fingers (epithet), forever active (epithet), forever striving to conceal themselves in his pockets or behind his back, came forth and became the piston rods of his machinery of expression. The story of Wing Biddlebaum is a story of hands.
Their restless activity, like unto the beating of the wings of an imprisoned bird, had given him his name. Some obscure poet of the town had thought of it. The hands alarmed their owner. He wanted to keep them hidden away and looked with amazement at the quiet expressive hands of other men who worked beside him in the fields, or passed, driving sleepy teams on country roads. The author shows us the man closed to the world. The only person whom he can communicate with is George Willard, who is the reporter on the Winesburg Eagle.
No doubt, a reporter is a profession devoted to the communication with people. So, George Willard for Wing Biddlebaum is the way to people, to the world. George is about twenty years old, and Wing, although he looks sixty-five, is about forty. As Wing paces on his porch, he looks down the road, hoping that George will come to talk. When he is not with George, he is alone and afraid. With George, he is confident and talkative, and he is able to express the ideas that he has developed over the lonely years. In the presence of George Willard, Wing Biddlebaum, who for twenty years had been the town mystery, lost something of his timidity, and his shadowy personality, submerged in a sea of doubts, came forth to look at the world.
” The story opens with a sentence that establishes the setting and the main character: ‘‘Upon the half decayed veranda of a small frame house that stood near the edge of a ravine near the town of Winesburg, Ohio, a fat little old man walked nervously up and down. ’’ As he stands alone and looks out over the fields, he sees a wagon full of young people returning home from berry picking.
They are laughing and enjoying each other’s company, and one of them yells across to the man, mocking him for his baldness. The author employs a number of stylistic devises that describe the main character’s inner world and appearance. A fat little old man – epithet Yellow mustard weeks – epithet Wing Biddlebaum, forever frightened and beset by a ghostly band of doubts – (metaphor), did not think of himself…. now as the old man walked up and down on the veranda, his hands moving nervously about, he was hoping that George Willard would come and spend the evening with him.
The author compares the main character’s life with a field – across a long field. In the sentence “The berry pickers, youth and maidens, laughed….. ” we can found such SD as detachment as the author wants to underline Wing’s age. Wing Biddlebaum’s problem seems very delicate. Twenty years ago he was a teacher. His hands were his distinguishing feature, the source of his fame. Also they made more grotesque an already grotesque and elusive individuality. Teacher’s caressing of his students sounds quite possibly innocent.
Throughout the story, we can see that Wing struggles to be “normal. ” He struggles to “keep his hands to himself” as he remembers the saloon keeper shouting. Which makes it difficult for him to communicate with anyone but George Willard; and even with him he still has difficulty opening up. In a town where Wing has resided for twenty years, he is the outsider. In the conclusion I would like to underline that Wing Biddlebaum is a unique man in the sense that he communicated not only through words, but also through touch.