The theme of isolation and purity in Sherwood Anderson's three short stories "The Book of the Grotesque," "Hands," and "Departure"

Essay by eryka_sHigh School, 11th gradeA-, August 2005

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Sherwood Anderson's three short stories "The Book of the Grotesque," "Hands," and "Departure" all have a common theme of isolation and purity. The main characters isolate themselves from society so they will not become grotesque. The characters in the short stories are grotesque because of their distorted appearances or personalities. They became grotesque because they were not able to express themselves and their passions. Society subdues individuality and the main characters were protecting themselves from the oppression. Their isolation leads to their purity

"The Book of the Grotesque" depicts an old man who writes of the grotesques. In his book, the people became grotesque because of the truth. There were truths and there were thoughts but the moment a person took a truth to himself and lived by it, they became grotesque. The truth hindered their creativity and individuality. No longer would they live on their own terms but on what the truth told them was right and wrong.

The writer protects himself from society and their infectious truths. He said he has a "woman, young, and wearing a coat of mail" inside of him. (p2). The coat of mail is an armored coat of inter-linked chains and it is protecting him from the truth that would turn him grotesque. The writer is old and near death and the young women inside of him represents the youth of which he is feeling. The writer is escaping the truth of dying because it does not upset him, instead he feels alive. The writer has a white mustache like the carpenter who comes to raise the writer's bed so it will be on the level of the window. The white symbolizes the purity of truth not soiling their thoughts. The carpenter is grotesque though because the truth of his...