Sherwood Anderson's Critique of Modernity in Winesburg, Ohio
In his collection of short stories about a simple American country town, Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson offers a critique of the emerging modern society of the early 20th century. Anderson establishes his disillusionment toward modernity by presenting the contemporary times in a materialistic and somewhat mournful fashion. He uses literary devices, specific characters, and plot lines to showcase a small town that is on the verge of transitioning into a modern society, rebelling against traditional values to create a sense of isolation and degeneration.
Throughout the novel, Anderson uses a plain and unobtrusive voice in an effort to portray the simplicity of those whose lives he reports on. Anderson uses one primary device to showcase how truly isolated the individuals in the town are: George Willard, the reporter for the local newspaper, The Winesburg Eagle. George serves as the middleman for the entire town. The residents of Winesburg feel so isolated and alone that they can only confide in a person who seems to be removed from the issues in the small town. Thus, the residents of Winesburg see George as a symbolic sanctuary in which to share their life stories, secrets, and private concerns.
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