Anderson, Sherwood

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Dec-01-2005


Adolph Myers (aka Wing Biddlebaum) is an aging former schoolmaster who is noted in his Ohio town for the incessant activity of his nervous hands. For twenty years Wing has isolated himself from nearly everyone except for young George, whom he wishes to educate about life much as Socrates had shared his experience with the young men at his feet. In a moment of inspiration, the old man laid his hands upon the boy's shoulders. Suddenly he turned and hurried away, saying that he could no longer talk with his friend.

The story then moves into Wing's past to explain the events of his young days as Adolph, the school master in Pennsylvania. Myers was driven from his school and home by a bevy of men who accused him of perverted behavior towards the pupils whose shoulders he stroked and hair he touched in his effort to carry a dream into the boys' young minds. Thus ended the teacher's career and developed his lifelong attempt to still his nervous hands.


This very short story touches on issues that concern schools and educators as well as parents--and certainly teachers whose motivation for being tender toward their students are most often gestures of innocent caring. It is interesting that in this tale, published in 1919, the final glimpse the reader has of Wings is his fingers picking up crumbs that have fallen on the floor. ". . . the kneeling figure looked like a priest engaged in some service of his church" (76).

Primary Source

Winesburg, Ohio


B. W. Huebsch

Place Published

New York



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