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MonkeyNotes-Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson-Free Study Guide
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STORY 8 - 'A MAN OF IDEAS'

SETTING

The setting is in Winesburg, Ohio.

CHARACTER LIST

Joe Welling - A small person, though he has virtual fits of talking grandiosely.

George Willard - The young reporter whom Joe besieges to pour out his ideas about life.

Sarah King - A sad looking woman with whom Joe falls in love.

Edward King and Tom King - The father and brother of Sarah, who are dangerous men.

CONFLICT

Protagonist - Joe welling is the main character in the story since it is his life story that is discussed.

Antagonist - Edward and Tom king are presumed to be the villainous character, since they are proud and dangerous men. The town folk worry for Joe to be pitted against them.

Climax - The climatic moment in the story is when Joe goes to meet Sarah's father and brother. The entire town is genuinely worried for Joe's safety, since they expect the Kings to not allow Joe to live, for asking for Sarah's hand in marriage. The people are thus afraid for Joe's life.

Outcome - The outcome is an unexpected one and it surprises everyone. Joe manages to win over the two men, with his outpouring of ideas, and they even concede to his plans of making money. Joe manages to win the show with his velocity of talk.


THEMES

The theme in the story is of love, which is strong enough to break all barriers. The power of talent is also illustrated. This talent really helps him catch his girl, and get assent for marriage.

MOOD

The mood is light and frivolous. The reader is made to laugh delightedly at the extraordinary output of ideas from Joe's lips and also he is actually afraid for Joe when he goes to meet the Kings, but in the end, the reader is again tickled to see the victory of Joe over the dangerous Kings.

STORY SUMMARY

Joe Welling lives with his mother in Winesburg. Though a man of small stature, he is like a "living volcano". He is subject to fits of ideas, whereupon he becomes uncontrollable, words spout from his mouth in torrents, and the person who is his victim then has no escape. He works as an agent for the standard Oil Company, but he can accost anyone on the road and rapidly begin shooting words at him. He is a terror for the Winesburg citizens. But when Joe organizes the baseball club, he is considered a savior, as he can channel his ideas and excitement into the players and make them win.

Joe falls in love with Sarah king a lean, sad-looking woman. Her brother Tom is considered dangerous, and so is his father Edward, the people of Winesburg can't help laughing at the odd pair but are afraid for Joe. George Willard reports his meeting with the two Kings. Apparently, Joe has managed to sweep away the two, by his torrent of words and ideas. His ideas have managed to perplex the two men and have given them no chance to counter attack Joe.

Notes

This is a funny little story about Joe welling and his penchant of speaking his tall ideas to people.

Joe is described as a "living volcano". When quiet, he can almost be ignored and missed. But the moment he starts speaking, it is like the volcano spilling forth a torrent of words and a lava of ideas. People try to shun him but Joe cannot be dissuaded. Joe is a butt of everybody's jokes but he is given respect, after he directs his nature to the baseball team. Out there, his volatile nature comes of use to urge and egg the players on. When he said, "Watch my hands! Watch my feet work with me! Let's work together!" the runners became inspired and as if in a spell, hurled the ball.

It is this new respect for Joe that makes the people afraid for him, when he falls in love with Sarah king. Here father and brother who are known for their surly nature and their dangerous way of living come across as an obstacle to Joe’s purpose. Whether Joe is to get across to them, to ask for Sarah's hand is the question.

Yet, even here it is Joe's inherent capacity of talk and volubility that saves him. His ideas and torrent of words virtually swamp the two men, who hardly get a chance to speak. Thus it is the same love of ideas and speech that helps Joe in 'winning over' the two kings.

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

Joe Welling - Joe is small in stature but massive in his volley of ideas that he keeps spewing forth. His ideas and words are almost like a fit, they come to him suddenly and this visitation is a physical as well as mental one. The townsfolk tried to avoid him like the plague during such fits. He is however given credence when he proves to be a worthy baseball coach. The town people are genuinely afraid for him, when he falls in love with Sarah king, but even this is handled adeptly by Joe, with the help of his gift of speech.

Sarah King - She is the sad - looking woman with whom Joe falls in love. She lives with her father and brother in a brick house. Sarah's character has not been described, neither is she a major part in the action.

Edward & Tom King - They are both dangerous men. Tom has been reported to kill a man before he came to Winesburg. The townsfolk are therefore truly worried for Joe when they see his love for their daughter, Sarah king.

PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS

The story develops with one idea after the other. Joe's description and behavior is seen at the beginning. The town folk acceptance of him as a good baseball coach follows. The last lap of the story revolves around the Sarah king episode, which is also closed fruitfully. Throughout, it is Joe's gift of the gab that helps him out in his circumstances.

THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS

Joe's talent is spouting forth ideas, with a thunderous volley of words, it is immense and awe-inspiring. It is also a tedious problem for the others, who have to listen to him. The town folks because of Joe’s words always avoided Joe. But it is this talent which gives him the role of baseball coach. This is the beginning of the people's acceptance of him. And it is the same talent of speech, which makes him override the dangerous kings, and even makes him a part of their household. Thus this talent was needlessly underestimated by the townsfolk, and had its own worth.

STUDY QUESTIONS

Elaborate on Joe's talent in speaking.

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