Anderson, Sherwood


Short Story


Sherwood Anderson was an Ohio-born author whose early education was interrupted when he needed to support his family. After moving to Chicago in 1893 to continue his education and again in 1912 to begin his writing career, Anderson used his native Ohio as the basis for much of his fiction. "Hands"tells the story of Wing Biddlebaum, a former teacher whose life has been influenced by the misjudgments of his peers early in his career. This short story explores themes of teaching, community, and roles and responsibilities.

Full Text*

*CCR cannot guarantee the accuracy or continued availability of this online text. Please notify us if you encounter any problems.


Originally published in the collection, Winesburg, Ohio in 1919.


Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.


Roles and BoundariesTeaching and Learning

Big Questions

Is it important to set boundaries? Why?What happens when boundaries are crossed? Can they change?What are the qualities of a good teacher?What does good teaching look like?


Taking Action

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. How does Wing Biddlebaum feel about his hands? How do his feelings about and use of them change throughout his life?
  2. Why does Biddlebaum stop being timid when George Willard visits him? Why does he tell George he is afraid of dreams?
  3. Do you think that Wing Biddlebaum is guilty of anything? Why or why not?
  4. Wing Biddlebaum’s teaching method included “the stroking of the shoulders and the touching of the hair.” What do you think of his method of teaching?
  5. What do you think the boundaries between teachers and their students should be?
  6. How should teachers “carry a dream into the young minds” of their students? What are the specifics of their responsibilities and roles?
Back to Resources