Friday, February 24, 2012

Countdown: The 10 Most Grotesque Residents of Winesburg, Ohio--#6

[For the previous entry on the countdown, click here.]

#6.Alice Hindman

The residents of Winesburg, Ohio rarely cut impressive figures when first introduced by Sherwood Anderson, and Alice Hindman is no exception.  The 27-year-old woman is described as "tall and somewhat slight.  Her head was large and overshadowed her body.  Her shoulders were a little stooped and her hair and eyes were brown."  Such hints of physical grotesquerie, though, are overshadowed by the oddity of thought and behavior manifest in a character like Alice.  She remains foolishly loyal to a lover who has since moved off to Chicago and taken up with another woman; over a decade later, Alice still clings to the idea that her unofficial "husband" will someday return to her.  Unfortunately, self-enforced solitude is warping Alice in the meantime:
As time passed and she became more and more lonely she began to practice the devices common to lonely people.  When at night she went upstairs into her own room she knelt on the floor to pray and in her prayers whispered things she wanted to say to her lover.  She became attached to inanimate objects, and because it was her own, could not bear to have anyone touch the furniture of her room.
Alice also takes to caressing and whispering to a blanket she arranges in her bed in the shape of a human form.  But her strangest undertaking is her titular "Adventure."  One inclement night, she is suddenly possessed with "a mad desire to run naked through the streets," thinking that the cold rain "would have some creative and wonderful effect on her body."  She heads outside and streaks straight toward a glimpsed male figure--who turns out to be a "somewhat deaf" (and presumably drunk) old man.  Abruptly mortified, Alice drops to the ground, then slowly crawls "on hands and knees through the grass to the house."  And so this Winesburg girl gone momentarily wild makes her shame-filled journey back to a cloistered, spinsterish existence.  

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