Winesburg, Ohio

The Flawed Notion of the City and a Superior Alternative in Winesburg, Ohio

The final sentence of Winesburg, Ohio imprints the image of the town fading away as George Willard departs for the city. In fact, to view the novel in larger units, the final chapter is conspicuously named "Departure," and for any reader who bothers to take in the table of contents page before starting the book it is fairly easy to deduce how Winesburg, Ohio will end before it even begins. The notion of escape from the town of Winesburg is common throughout the book, and the intended destination for escape is usually some undefined "city." As a recurring element, however, it fits into a broader theme of the novel, that of a need for change in general. The two means through which change can occur can be classified as outburst and escape, with each occupying slightly different niches in the novel. Escape, being the culminating event of the novel, is clearly given prominence. But examination reveals that flight to the city is a largely flawed notion which is idealized by many but yields results which are actually embittering and not much better, empirically, than life in Winesburg. Outburst actually serves as a slightly more successful outlet for the anxieties of Winesburg's citizens.

Outburst in Winesburg,...

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