“Caress” (757)

The selection “Hands” portrays a man haunted by his past actions, for which he realizes and fears the consequences – but does not understand the erroneous nature of the causal actions themselves. Adolph is the figure who does not comprehend boundaries established by societal norms. With a shock of pain, cultural propriety forces Wing to entirely shift his perspective, to realize how his sensitive nature renders his extremities intrinsically dangerous by their potential to carry out dubious effects. His (supposedly) innocent caresses of the boys leads to accusations of sexual abuse, destroying his capricious existence. The “euphonic,”  spontaneous name Wing Biddlebaum is all that suggests the formerly overt warmth that he must now suppress through the crude exhibition of fists beating upon a table (756). He had envisioned his tenderness as a physical transmission of inspiration, a manifestation of caring. His hands, once the most visible and expressive aspect of his being through caress, must be confined as to avoid additional transgression.

“Caress,” the criminalized action, otherwise connotes a soft, languid movement of a personal, usually intimate, variety. This notion may be contrasted to the final image of the fingers “flashing in and out of the light,” as Wing rapidly picks up breadcrumbs from the floor. Such alacrity and nearly violent imagery reveal not only his desire to hide his hands from the light, but also reflect back to the alarming realization of how Wing “still hungered for the presence of the boy” (758). His fingers gather the crumbs ravenously, as eagerly and instinctually as he would reach out to caress George Willard’s shoulders (756). Biddlebaum’s struggles to contain himself divulge emotions silently yet exponentially building within him, yearning to be released through just another caress.


2 thoughts on ““Caress” (757)”

  1. Awesome post, I really like the connection between the soft connotation of “caress” and the final image of Wing violently using these same hands to pick up bread crumbs. I think the bread crumbs themselves are a sad reminder of the old life of Adolf that fell to pieces.

  2. The comparison you made regarding the manner in which he reached out for bread crumbs with his caressing was an interesting insight. It is very unclear whether or not Wing is innocent; in fact the entire story continues to have a sense of lacking crucial details. Perhaps much of what really happened is left ambiguous to leave the reader questioning Wing Biddlebaum and his supposed innocence.

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