Sherwood Anderson's depiction small town America in " Adventure" (from Winesburg, Ohio)
What does Anderson have to say about small town America in ” Adventure” (from Winesburg, Ohio)?
‘Adventure’ is a short story from Sherwood Anderson’s short story cycle Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small-Town Life (1919). As the full title suggests, small-town life is the central consideration of this story collection. ‘Adventure’ follows Alice, a shy and quiet clerk who is becoming frustrated with her life as a small-town spinster. She reminisces wistfully about Ned, a man she fell in love with at sixteen, but who left to begin a new start in a different, bigger city and forgot about her. She expresses resentment at being left behind in Winesburg entirely alone – her widowed mother has re-married, so she does not even have her companionship, and her employer is a solitary old curmudgeon. There is a drugstore clerk who sometimes walks her home, and she realises that she could marry him if she wanted to, but she is unwilling to let herself settle for this predictable provincial life, trapped in a small town like Winesburg where nothing ever changes, particularly compared to the love she once felt for Ned. Instead, she craves adventure, which she brings upon herself when she snaps and runs naked into the night. Throughout this evening, she indulges in several behaviours which would be considered ‘unbecoming’ of a young unmarried woman, and the judgemental nature of the small town is magnified in her worry about being found out. Ultimately, Alice must “face bravely the fact that many people must live and die alone, even in Winesburg” (Anderson, 1993, p. 120). No dramatic changes are made to her life after this realisation, and it goes on much as before with the sense that, in a small town, this is inevitable.
Anderson, S. (1993). Winesburg, Ohio. London: Penguin Modern Classics.