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MonkeyNotes-Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson-Free Study Guide
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PART IV - Terror


When David turned fifteen a great adventure took place that changed his out-look forever. By then his mother and grandfather had died. David was living with his grandfather Jesse and had fallen into the habit of hunting imaginary animals with his sting, in the forests!

One day his grandfather took him into the forest. By now, Jesse had bought many machines, his crop had been enormous and he had been able to buy more farms. But he still thought of God and now wanted to make a sacrifice for God. So that god would appear before him with a message.

Jesse and David enter the forest, David holding a white lamb given to him by Jesse, tightly secured by string. As they approach the spot where, earlier David had been frightened by Jesse, David's terror grows again. Jesse goes about erecting heap of dry sticks to ignite. His idea is to sacrifice the lamb, and puts the lamb's blood on David's head. But as he approaches David with a knife, presumably to kill the lamb in his arms David takes fright and frees from the place. On seeing his grandfather pursue him he places a stone on his sling and sends it whistling towards Jesse. Jesse is hit and falls. David thinking that he is dead runs away deciding to never return. From that day onwards, when asked about the boy, all that Jesse says is, "it happened because I was too greedy for glory."


Jesse and his two ideologies are again described and elucidated, but now it in David's context. David, who is now living with his grandfather, has acquired a sling, and enjoys hunting animals. This hobby of his brings about a great adventure for him, which changes his life.

Jesse's insane need to receive a message from God has not decreased. Though a very prosperous man owning great expanses of land. He still awaits the message from God. This insanity makes him impervious to anything else, not even the fright in David's eyes.

David has not forgotten his earlier experience with Jesse at the forest and is all the more afraid of the intense look in his eyes.

David of course doesn't realize that Jesse plans to kill the lamb for sacrifice. Seeing him approach him, he naturally assumes that he plans to kill him with the knife and so he flees. The lamb too runs away. When David looks back to see Jesse following him he doesn't realize that he is really following that lamb. It is his fright and desperation that pushes him to send the slingshot towards. Jesse Also, assuming that he has killed his own grandfather he decides to run away and never return Thus eventually David disappears.

Jesse's silence on David's subject is understandable. For him the message from God has come in the form of a messenger who took away his grandson. His realization of his greed for glory comes too late.


Jesse Bentley - Jesse has inherited the farmhouse and is sole owner of it. His is posed as an autocratic ruler. At the same time, his desire to modernize his farm reveals his broad mindedness. He is, however of a contradictory disposition. Though modern in one sense, he still has intense religious beliefs, and is forever awaiting God's message for him. His disinterest in her daughter, Louise, is reason for her ill temper and bitterness. But he bestows all his love on his grandson David Hardy, who will be the heir.

Louise - Louise has never been able to accept the lack of affection from her father's side. It has left a permanent seal on her behavior and her response to her own marriage. Though her husband is rich and gentle, she remains bitter, argumentative, and disillusioned lady right - till the end.

David Hardy - He is the heir to Jesse's property and the much - wanted son for Jesse. Jesse even makes him leave his own house and settle down at the farm. David's childhood days at the farmhouse is filled with gay abandon and happy hours. But he is unable to gauge his grandfather's motive for the sacrifice, and runs away in fear. He even hits at his grandfather with his sling and fearing that he has killed him, runs away never to return.

There is no ostensible development in David's character, just a series of incidents, which affect him.


The story is divided in four sections. The first part describes Jesse taking over the farmhouse and his fanaticism over his work. The second section shows Jesse's distress at having a daughter and his neglect towards her. It also shows his love for his grandson, David, whom he virtually adopts. The third section is called 'Surrender' and describes Louise's miserable life, without love, and her craving for attention. Part four depicts the terror that David feels seeing his grandfather performing the sacrifice.

There is a shunting from past to present in the entire section, yet all the four sections are well united and structural.


The theme in the stories is the fervor of religion in Jesse's mind, and the consequences of it at the conclusion. Right from the beginning, Jesse is shown to be all consumed by the need to hear any message from God. He wishes to do good on this earth and convert the non-believers into staunch believers like him. When Jesse begins to perform the sacrificial rites, his intentions are to sacrifice a goat so that the Lord might be pleased enough to deliver his message to him. But this sacrifice merely frightens David, his grandson, who flees and even hits back at his grandfather with a slingshot. It is at this point that Jesse finally feels that whatever message God has to send has been sent though this incident. The theme of modernization and industrialization of the farm has also been produced. Jesse is a hard taskmaster, for himself as well as his workers. These ideas of mechanizing all the various components of his farm, also indicates his modern bent of mind and acceptance of the changing times of the industry. QUESTIONS Give the character sketch of Jesse. Why do you think religiousness was such an important aspect for Jesse?

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