Sherwood Anderson, “Adventure” (1919)

Loneliness as a life sentence: Alice Hindman is a 27-year-old retail clerk, quiet, “but beneath a placid exterior a continual ferment went on.” She falls in love with Ned Currie, who is touched but also puzzled by her ardor, also literally: she gives herself to him in a field, thinking of it far more than he did. He leaves for a bigger town. He never returns. She never abandons her hope that he will. She stays out of the unvirginal woods. She joins a church. A middle-aged man, another store clerk, begins walking her home. “It is not him that I want.” One rainy night she gets naked and walks into the rain by her house. “She thought that the rain would have some creative and wonderful effect on her body. Not for years had she felt so full of youth and courage. She wanted to leap and run, to cry out, to find some other lonely human and embrace him.” All she finds is a strange, half deaf old man. She must “face bravely the fact that many people must live and die alone, even in Winesburg.” It is Anderson’s version of quiet desperation.

Comments are closed.