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Hands: Paranoia Essay, Research Paper

Hands: Paranoia


English 102 b

Jan. 28, 1997

It seems that in all three of these works there is a sense of paranoia.

In “Hands” a man is fearful of what might happen if he continues to do as he has

done in the past, touch people. A terrible fear of what a small touch could

lead to. In the story “Eveline” a young woman is confused about what to do with

her life. Whether to go with a man she thinks she loves or stay with her father.

In the poem “Summer Solstice, New York City” This man is made crazy and

paranoid because of something. That something has driven this man to the point

of casting his body over the edge of a building.

Straight from the text of Hands, a story about a man and his paranoia of

his own hands. An example of Wing Biddlebaums fear. “Wing Biddlebaum forever

frightened and beset by a ghostly band of doubts.”(p. 882) Adolf Myers, or Wing,

as the town people called him, was a dreamer, he wanted others to dream with him

and experience what he did. “Adolf Myers walked into the evening or had sat

talking until dusk upon the school steps lost in a dream.”(p. 884) “In a way

the voice and hands, the stroking of shoulders and the touching of hair were a

part of the school Master’s effort to carry a dream into the young minds.”(p.

884) This is a man that was run out of a town for something that was not a bad

thing. Nor was this something intended the wrong way. Mr. Myers did touch only

to pass on something great, a dream. Mr. Myers was run from a town. “They

intended to hang the school master.”(p. 885) “As he ran away in the darkness

they repented their weakness and ran after him.”(p. 885) Mr. Myers was so

paranoid about touching someone he would do anything to keep his hands from

doing so. “When he talked to George Willard, Wing Biddlebaum closed his fist and

beat with them upon a table or on the walls of his house.”(p. 882) Once Wing did

let that one thing that he tried so hard not to do happen. He touched someone,

when he realized it I feel that the paranoia set in. “For once he forgot his

hands. Slowly they stole their way upon George Willard’s shoulders.”(p. 883)

“With a conclusive move of his body Wing sprang to his feet and thrust his hands

deep in his pockets.” “Tears came to his eyes.” “I must be getting home, I can

talk no more.” (p. 884) Wing was scarred of something . . . He was paranoid of

touching someone.

The poem “Summer Solstice, New York City”deals with a man threatening

society to take his own life. This whole play is dealing with paranoia. “He

could not stand it” “The officer was putting on a bulletproof vest, a black

shell around his own life.” “They all came a little closer, where they squatted

near his death.” All of these are examples of either anticipation of death or

fear of what will happen depending on what you do next. The officers are afraid

of moving to fast. For if so the man may jump. “The tallest cop approached him

directly, softly, softly, talking to him, talking, talking.” The crowd was

paranoid that what they might do would have an adverse effect on the situation.

“The crowd gathered in the street, silent.” Every person was worried that the

man would jump. All people took preparation. “The dark hairy net with it’s

implacable grid was unfolded near the curb and spread out and stretched as the

sheet is prepared to received birth.” While the man stands at the edge of the

building, about to take his life. A cop worried about startling him makes his

move. A cop “came up out of a hold in the top of the neighboring building, like

the gold hole they say is in the top of a head, he began to lurk toward the man

who wanted to die.” Even thought the man wanted to die, it seemed that he wants

to live that much more. The man was scared of stepping down “everything stopped

as his body jerked and he stepped down from the parapet and went toward them and

they closed on him.” The police were happy to see the man had passed on his

desire to take his life, they had done their job and they had done it well.

“They took him by the arms, and held him up by the chimney and the tall cop lit

a cigarette in his own mouth, and gave it to the man.”(p. 925)

In the story “Eveline” a young girl is paranoid about making the right

decision. Her mother asked her to promise something before she died that would

twist her thoughts till the night her boyfriend left her. Her mother made her

promise to take as much care of the family as she could. Eveline wanted to do

so many things that her life at home restricted. “She was about to explore

another life with frank.” “He took her to see The Bohemian Girl.”(p. 888) “She

would go away with him by the night-boat to be his wife and to live with him in

Buenos Ayres.”(p. 888) Her father refused to let her see him. “I know these

sailor chaps.”(p. 888) “One day he had quarrelled with Frank and after that had

to meet her lover secretly.”(p. 888) One would feel like the reader could tell

that Eveline wanted to go. She would experience things that she had only

dreamed about. She worried so much. Every time it seemed she had a valid

reason to go she would contradict it with a reason to stay. Her mother seemed

to be the biggest factor. Often she made reference to her and times they spent

together. “Another day their when mother was alive, they had all gone for a

picnic to the Hill of Howth.”(p. 889) However so many times when she did find

reason to stay she would think of how mean her father had been to her. Often

withholding money from her. Then sending her to the store at the last minute to

get food and milk. But at that very same time she thought that her father was

reason to stay. “Her father was becoming old lately, she noticed; he would miss

her.” “Not long before she had been laid up for a day, he had read her a ghost

story and made toast for her at the fire.”(p. 888) Last of all things her heart

poured out to God to help solve her confession, her paranoia of the situation,

and her inability to make a decision. “She prayed to God to direct her, to show

her what was her duty.” (p. 889)


“Hands” Sherwood Anderson

“Summer Solstice, New York City” Sharon Olds

“Eveline” James Joyce

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