Healing Hands, Pedophiles, and Gay Men

For my creative fiction writing course, we read Sherwood Anderson’s short story “HANDS.” I read it once and instantly fell in love with the subject. This professor, Wing, caresses the minds of young boys by actually touching their shoulders and their heads while educating them on his visions. In a modern society, the parents view this as inappropriate behavior and drive Wing out-of-town by beating him. For the rest of his life, Wing hides his hands, never understanding why those around him see them as an abomination. The end of the story shows us the comparison of Wing (healing with his hands) and Jesus, or Socrates, who also healed with their hands. However, in a modern world, people view touch in a very different way, and actually judge healers as disgusting. The moral of the story is that modern-day children are suffering by not being healed BECAUSE of our modern view of touch.

This reminded me of a friend I have. She once told me that she was a gay man stuck inside a woman’s body. I wasn’t sure how he knew he was gay. He told me that there is a difference between being attracted to straight men, and being attracted to gay men, and that’s how he knew. I don’t see many people being as understanding as I was that day.

I also had a friend whose boyfriend admitted to feeling sexually attracted to young boys. However, instead of acting upon these feelings, he sought professional help to learn how to deal with these feelings without satisfying them. Most people would be disgusted by this person, but I’m not. We all have problems we don’t ask for, but not everyone seeks help to control them. Because of this, my friend’s boyfriend is NOT disgusting—his need is disgusting, but he, himself, is not.

I wrote this blog because I would like to see more modern-day people asking questions. Find out why people act or think the way they do, and then decide what to think of it. Wing was not a pedophile, he was a healer—no one figured that out because no one asked. People may view my female friend who is actually a gay man as a confused and disgusting person—instead of asking her questions to understand. Others may view my friend’s boyfriend as a disgusting pedophile because they will never know that he has done everything in his power to never indulge in his feelings. How many people do you know who are strong enough, or working to be strong enough, to conquer their sexual needs?

Please seek information. Please don’t judge. Please save people from feeling alone in the world.

You can read ‘Hands’ online at: http://www.bartleby.com/156/2.html

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2 thoughts on “Healing Hands, Pedophiles, and Gay Men

  1. I just read this short story by Anderson, and I too loved it. I had read it many years ago (I am a retired English teacher). What struck me was how we probably, as citizens of the 21st century, read this with far greater skepticism than the audience Anderson wrote for. I walked away feeling Wing was a repressed pedophile. while I get the notion that Anderson’s contemporaries would view that Wing was unjustly accused of wrongdoing that shamed him for the rest of his life. I am very sure that if I gave this piece to students today (and I probably would not unless they were older and more sophisticated), they would assume Wing had an “|issue” with young boys. I also read “The Children’s Hour” and was haunted by that piece as well. Your blog entry is dated but I hope this reaches you all the same. Loved that story and I loved the words of the newspaper writer to Wing (I am paraphrasing). The thoughts, opinions and words of another have the power of galvanizing how you think about yourself. You allow yourself to be defined by words and actions that were thrust upon you decades ago and you allow yourself to still carry that weight of guilt.

  2. Hello Susan. Yes, your comment has found me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for allowing me this opportunity to continue learning from this time in my life. I think, in literary fiction, there is a “heart” below the plot. In a modern world, Wing may be a repressed pedophile. But below the plot, there is a greater message, and I think it has more to do with mass media’s interpretations of ordinary people. There ARE people out there who feel that touching another human being on the head or shoulders is a way to feel their existence. There are those who do so for a sexual purpose. The problem is, we are so scared of the latter (and that’s a good thing) that we lump everyone into one category (and that’s a bad thing). Words really do empower or cripple people, and there have been many times when I was very confused about my genuine feelings because of outside influence. What I actually want and what society makes me think I want, or should want, are often times hard to differentiate between. Anyway, I really appreciate your comment and hope you find other posts helpful. Take care.

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