A Critical Analysis of Death in the Woods "Death in the Woods" is a story about a woman that lives a hard life. When she was a girl she worked for a German farmer and his wife. When she was a little older she married a man named Jake Grimes thinking she would get away from the crude work of the farmer. She soon finds out that life doesn't get any better for her than it already was.
Later in the story she is found dead by a rabbit hunter in the woods (Cleveland).
"Death in the Woods" seemingly concerns a farm woman, Mrs. Grimes, who, only in her early forties, seems old and probably psycotic. She doesn't have a first name in the story, and, indeed, very little is known about her life at all in the story. It's like no one knows who she is or why she is there (Arnold 528-531).
The narrator is a man who remembers and recreates the stories' events from his childhood to later years? He tries to put together the few things that he actually does know. Through this re-creation, he searches for meaning and completion to his story. He needs for his events to make sense (Arnold 528-531).
" The old woman was nothing special(Arnold 528)," the narrator recalls. In fact, she was one of the nameless ones that hardly anyone knew, but she was in his thoughts as he recalled in the story. In her youth, the young woman had been a bound girl, practically a Cleveland 2 slave to a harsh German farmer and his wife. Her job was to feed the stock and to cook for the couple. It seems her life with them was very unhappy (Arnold 528-531).
Inspite of her cruel work and family, she met a man named Jake Grimes. Jake Grimes, was the preppy "Playboy" son of a failed sawmill owner who offered to marry her and get her away from the farmer and his wife, and she accepted. Mrs. Grime's life, however, was hardly an improvement over the former one. She soon became a servant first to her husband and later to her son (Arnold 528-531).
Anderson wrote several versions of the tale before he felt that he had come close to telling it like he wanted, and one of the most obvious narrative devices employed in the story is the narrator's difficulty in saying exactly what he means. It may be argued that, in fact, the story is concerned more with narrator than with the old woman whose death serves as inspiration for the narrator. The unnamed narrator is a grown man looking back to his childhood, and there is considerable joking concerning the actual events that he recounts (Arnold 528-531).
Some other stories Sherwood Anderson is famous for is Winesburg, Ohio.
Winesburg, Ohio is the best-known and is an American classic that was published in 1919. He is also known for The Triumph of the Egg, Horses and Men, Marching Men, and other short stories. Andersons most popular story is "I Am a Fool" from Horses and Men. Here, a young horse groom describes a humiliation caused less by his own clumsiness with the opposite sex than by the gulf of social class and education which separates him from the girl. The story re-creates the universe of young romance so well Cleveland 3 presented in Winesburg,Ohio, and brings a knowing smile from all manners of readers (Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia).
Anderson also wrote many novels such as "Windy McPherson's Son, published in 1916, and "Marching Men" published in 1917. He also wrote plays "Winesburg and Others." Anderson not only wrote plays, but he wrote poetry and nonfiction stories as well. His first nonfiction story was called "A Story Teller's Story" published in 1924 (Grajewski 73).
Sherwood joined his brother Karl, a magazine illustrator in Chicago and took a job with an advertising Agency. "He became acquainted with the "Chicago group" of writers, which included Theodore Dreiser, Carl Sandburg, Ben Hecht, and Floyd Dell" (Grajewski 68).
In most of his stories, if not all, they relate in some way or another. In most of these stories it is homosexuality. In one such book it talks about how an old writer is dying and how he hires a carpenter to build up his bed so that he can observe the trees. After the carpenter leaves, the writer returns to his project of writing, "The Book of the Grotesque." Men turned these thoughts into many beautiful truths such as truth of passion, wealth and poverty. A person could then appropriate a single one of these truths and try to go by it. That is when he or she would become a grotesque. The stories in Winesburg, Ohio do grapple with Anderson's intended theme, and a story such as "Hands" clearly illustrates what he means by grotesque (Ellis 2).
The hands belong to Wing Biddlebaum, formerly Adolph Myers, a teacher in a Pennsylvania village who was beaten and run out of town for caressing boys. Anderson Cleveland 4 is oblique about Wing's homosexuality, for the thrust of the story. In the story "Death in the Woods," as a girl, Mrs. Grimes was sexually abused her German owner (Doneskey 1- 3).
"The Philosopher" provides a more subtle illustration of grotesque and introduces the idea that a grotesque need not be pitiable or tragic; in fact, he can be wildly humorous as demonstrated at the beginning of the story with the philosopher's description (Doneskey 1-3).
Anderson was interested in the development of the artist- type, the inner desires of repressed people, the failure of people to communicate their true selves; the way conventions and tradition have twisted and distorted the individual (Doneskey 1-3).
Anderson wrote several versions of the tale before he felt that he had to come close to telling it adequately, and one of the most narrative devices employed in the story is the narrator's apparent difficulty in saying exactly what he means, in capturing in words the truth of the event (Doneskey 1-3).
It may be argued, in fact, that the story is concerned more with the narrator than with the old woman whose death serves as inspiration, or catalyst, for the narrator. The unnamed narrator is a grown man looking back to his childhood, and there is considerable ambiguity concerning the actual events that he recounts ( Arnold 530-531).
At his best, Anderson's prose is stripped of sentimentality and yet conveys emotion. He was strongly influenced by Gertrude Stein and used poetic repetition and variations in words, phrases, and sentence structure to convey his images of people and their circumstances. Anderson's prose, therefore, will be spare and controlled. In Winesburg, Cleveland 5 Ohio his tales take on symbolic significance, with the small Ohio town being a microcosm of modern life in general. The structure of the tales in Winesburg usually move toward some sudden self-revelation, like James Joyce's epiphanies in Dubliners (Donesky 2).
"Death in the Woods" can be seen as an explanation of story telling: What causes the teller to repeat his tale; in what manner does he draw on fact, fantasy, and personal experience to transform the basic events of the world into the wonder of imaginative creation? Like the old woman's body, become that of a lovely young girl, the story, seen in mystical light of the moon, transfixes the reader with its hidden magic and touches him with its revealed beauty (Arnold 531).
The most important work is the American classic, Winesburg, Ohio. It is a collection of assorted short stories set in the mythical town of Winesburg in the latter up part of the 19th century. The stories catalog Anderson's negative reaction to the transformation of Ohio from a largely agricultural to an industrial society, which culminated about the time he was growing up in the village of Clyde in the 1800's. Its twenty-five stories are vignettes of the town doctor; the voluble baseball coach; the still attractive but aging-with-loneliness high school teacher; the prosperous and harsh farmer- turned- religious fanatic; the dirt laborer; the hotel keeper, the bankers daughter, and her adolescent suitors; the Presbyterian minister struggling with temptation; the town drunk; the town rough; the town homosexual; and the town half wit (Grajewski 68).