This essay discusses the theme of Sherwood Anderson's, "Paper Pills."
Sherwood Anderson’s Paper Pills, is a nineteenth century story of a grotesque, old man from Winesburg, Ohio, who falls in love with a young woman who is with child out of wedlock. The theme of this story is one should not judge another, especially by mere outward appearance. This theme is made clear through Anderson’s use of characterization, symbolism, and the structure.
As readers are introduced to the character of Dr. Reefy they can see what an outcast from society he is. He is described as having a very large nose, big hands, and bulky knuckles. He had been wearing the same attire for a decade. The Doctor also had an odd habit of stuffing small paper balls into the pocket of his large coat. He married a young beautiful girl with dark hair who was very wealthy. She was a quiet girl who had been seeing suitors until she became pregnant by one of them. Upon her pregnancy the girl visited Dr. Reefy and without her saying a word he knew why she had come. The young girl never left him again. One year following their matrimony the young girl passed away (Anderson). The contrast in not only the characters’ external appearances, but also their habits and ages are very significant in the illustration of Anderson’s theme. These two people are very different looking on the outside. Dr. Reefy has very strange habits as compared to the young girl’s normal habits, and he is also much older than her. In not one of these areas are either character judging one other.
The theme is first revealed to the reader through Anderson’s use of symbolism. In the fall, after the pickers have collected all of the perfect looking apples, the trees in the orchards of Winesburg are left with only a few “gnarled apples” (Anderson). This reveals the truth of how people will judge something or someone without ever seeing or getting to know within. According to Anderson these irregular apples are the...