Journal 7 ‘Outsider theme’
Type a 300 word response—choose one of the six approved research paper story choices and write about how one of the characters is an ‘outsider’. This journal needs to be double-spaced, typed in courier new 12 point font, and must be formatted in MLA style format. Do not use ANY outside sources or information from the Internet to complete your journal.
Sherwood Anderson (1876 – 1941)
UPON the half decayed veranda of a small frame house that stood near the edge of a ravine near the town of
Winesburg, Ohio, a fat little old man walked nervously up and down. Across a long field that had been seeded for
clover but that had produced only a dense crop of yellow mustard weeds, he could see the public highway along
which went a wagon filled with berry pickers returning from the fields. The berry pickers, youths and maidens,
laughed and shouted boisterously. A boy clad in a blue shirt leaped from the wagon and attempted to drag after him
one of the maidens, who screamed and protested shrilly. The feet of the boy in the road kicked up a cloud of dust that
floated across the face of the departing sun. Over the long field came a thin girlish voice. “Oh, you Wing Biddlebaum,
comb your hair, it’s falling into your eyes,” commanded the voice to the man, who was bald and whose nervous little
hands fiddled about the bare white forehead as though arranging a mass of tangled locks.
Wing Biddlebaum, forever frightened and beset by a ghostly band of doubts, did not think of himself as in any way a
part of the life of the town where he had lived for twenty years. Among all the people of Winesburg but one had come
close to him. With George Willard, son of Tom Willard, the proprietor of the New Willard House, he had formed
something like a friendship. George Willard was the reporter on the Winesburg Eagle and sometimes in the evenings
he walked out along the highway to Wing Biddlebaum’s house. Now as the old man walked up and down on the
veranda, his hands moving nervously about, he was hoping that George Willard would come and spend the evening
with him. After the wagon containing the berry pickers had passed, he went across the field through the tall mustard
weeds and climbing a rail fence peered anxiously along the road to the town. For a moment he stood thus, rubbing
his hands together and looking up and down the road, and then, fear overcoming him, ran back to walk again upon
the porch on his own house.
In the presence of George Willard, Wing Biddlebaum, who for twenty years had been the town mystery, lost
something of his timidity, and his shadowy personality, submerged in a sea of doubts, came forth to look at the world.
With the young reporter at his side, he ventured in the light of day into Main Street or strode up and down on the
rickety front porch of his own house, talking excitedly. The voice that had been low and trembling became shrill and
loud. The bent figure straightened. With a kind of wriggle, like a fish returned to the brook by the fisherman,
Biddlebaum the silent began to talk, striving to put into words the ideas that had been accumulated by his mind during
long years of silence. Wing Biddlebaum talked much with his hands. The slender expressive fingers, forever active,
forever striving to conceal themselves in his pockets or
Raymond Carver – “Cathedral”
This blind man, an old friend of my wife’s, he was on his way to spend the night. His wife had
died. So he was visiting the dead wife’s relatives in Connecticut. He called my wife from his in-
law’s. Arrangements were made. He would come by train, a five-hour trip, and my wife would
meet him at the station. She hadn’t seen him since she worked for him one summer in Seattle ten
years ago. But she and the blind man had kept in touch. They made tapes and mailed them back
and forth. I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind
bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly
and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs. A blind man in my house was
not something I looked forward to.
That summer in Seattle she had needed a job. She didn’t have any money. The man she was
going to marry at the end of the summer was in officers’ training school. He didn’t have any
money, either. But she was in love with the guy, and he was in love with her, etc. She’d seen
something in the paper: HELP WANTED—Reading to Blind Man, and a telephone number. She
phoned and went over, was hired on the spot. She worked with this blind man all summer. She
read stuff to him, case studies, reports, that sort of thing. She helped him organize his little office
in the county social-service department. They’d become good friends, my wife and the blind
man. On her last day in the office, the blind man asked if he could touch her face. She agreed to
this. She told me he touched his fingers to every part of her face, her nose—even her neck! She
never forgot it. She even tried to write a poem about it. She was always trying to write a poem.
She wrote a poem or two every year, usually after something really important had happened to
When we first started going out together, she showed me the poem. In the poem, she recalled his
fingers and the way they had moved around over her face. In the poem, she talked about what
she had felt at the time, about what went through her mind when the blind man touched her nose
and lips. I can remember I didn’t think much of the poem. Of course, I didn’t tell her that. Maybe
I just don’t understand poetry. I admit it’s not the first thing I reach for when I pick up something
Anyway, this man who’d first enjoyed her favors, this officer-to-be, he’d been her childhood
sweetheart. So okay. I’m saying that at the end of the summer she let the blind man run his hands
over her face, said good-bye to him, married her childhood etc., who was now a commissioned
officer, and she moved away from Seattle. But they’d keep in touch, she and the blind man. She
made the first contact after a year or so. She called him up one night from an Air Force base in
Alabama. She wanted to talk. They talked. He asked her to send him a tape and tell him about
her life. She did
William Faulkner – “A Rose for Emily”
When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of
respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of
her house, which no one save an old man-servant—a combined gardener and cook—had seen in
at least ten years.
It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires
and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been
our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the
august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and
coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps—an eyesore among eyesores.
And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay
in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and
Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.
Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon
the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor—he who fathered the
edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron—remitted her taxes,
the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity. Not that Miss Emily
would have accepted charity. Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss
Emily’s father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred
this way of repaying. Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have
invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.
When the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this
arrangement created some little dissatisfaction. On the first of the year they mailed her a tax
notice. February came, and there was no reply. They wrote her a formal letter, asking her to call
at the sheriff’s office at her convenience. A week later the mayor wrote her himself, offering to
call or to send his car for her, and received in reply a note on paper of an archaic shape, in a thin,
flowing calligraphy in faded ink, to the effect that she no longer went out at all. The tax notice
was also enclosed, without comment.
They called a special meeting of the Board of Aldermen. A deputation waited upon her, knocked
at the door through which no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons
eight or ten years earlier. They were admitted by the old Negro into a dim hall from which a
stairway mounted into still more shadow. It smelled of dust and disuse—a close, dank smell. The
Negro led them into the parlor. It was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture. When the
Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when
By Langston Huges
I was saved from sin when I was going on thirteen. But not really saved. It happened like
this. There was a big revival at my Auntie Reed’s church. Every night for weeks there had
been much preaching, singing, praying, and shouting, and some very hardened sinners had
been brought to Christ, and the membership of the church had grown by leaps and bounds.
Then just before the revival ended, they held a special meeting for children, “to bring the
young lambs to the fold.” My aunt spoke of it for days ahead. That night I was escorted to
the front row and placed on the mourners’ bench with all the other young sinners, who had
not yet been brought to Jesus.
My aunt told me that when you were saved you saw a light, and something happened to you
inside! And Jesus came into your life! And God was with you from then on! She said you
could see and hear and feel Jesus in your soul. I believed her. I had heard a great many old
people say the same thing and it seemed to me they ought to know. So I sat there calmly in
the hot, crowded church, waiting for Jesus to come to me.
The preacher preached a wonderful rhythmical sermon, all moans and shouts and lonely
cries and dire pictures of hell, and then he sang a song about the ninety and nine safe in the
fold, but one little lamb was left out in the cold. Then he said: “Won’t you come? Won’t you
come to Jesus? Young lambs, won’t you come?” And he held out his arms to all us young
sinners there on the mourners’ bench. And the little girls cried. And some of them jumped up
and went to Jesus right away. But most of us just sat there.
A great many old people came and knelt around us and prayed, old women with jet-black
faces and braided hair, old men with work-gnarled hands. And the church sang a song about
the lower lights are burning, some poor sinners to be saved. And the whole building rocked
with prayer and song.
Still I kept waiting to see Jesus.
Finally all the young people had gone to the altar and were saved, but one boy and me. He
was a rounder’s son named Westley. Westley and I were surrounded by sisters and deacons
praying. It was very hot in the church, and getting late now. Finally Westley said to me in a
whisper: “God damn! I’m tired o’ sitting here. Let’s get up and be saved.” So he got up and
Then I was left all alone on the mourners’ bench. My aunt came and knelt at my knees and
cried, while prayers and song swirled all around me in the little church. The whole
congregation prayed for me alone, in a mighty wail of moans and voices. And I kept waiting
serenely for Jesus, waiting, waiting – but he didn’t come. I wanted to see him, but nothing
happened to me. Nothing! I wanted something to happen to me, but nothing happened.
I heard the songs and the minister saying: “Why don’t you come? My dear child, why don’t
you come to Jesus? Jesus is waiting for you. He wants you. Why
It was December—a bright frozen day in the early morning. Far out in the country there was an old Negro woman
with her head tied red rag, coming along a path through the pinewoods. Her name was Phoenix Jackson. She was
very old and small and she walked slowly in the dark pine shadows, moving a little from side to side in her steps, with
the balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grand-father clock. She carried a thin, small cane made
from an umbrella, and with this she kept tapping the frozen earth in front of her. This made a grave and persistent
noise in the still air, that seemed meditative like the chirping of a solitary little bird.
She wore a dark striped dress reaching down to her shoe tops, and an equally long apron of bleached sugar sacks,
with a full pocket: all neat and tidy, but every time she took a step she might have fallen over her shoelaces, which
dragged from her unlaced shoes. She looked straight ahead. Her eyes were blue with age. Her skin had a pattern all
its own of numberless branching wrinkles and as though a whole little tree stood in the middle of her forehead, but a
golden color ran underneath, and the two knobs of her cheeks were illumined by a yellow burning under the dark.
Under the red rag her hair came down on her neck in the frailest of ringlets, still black, and with an odor like copper.
Now and then there was a quivering in the thicket. Old Phoenix said, “Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles,
jack rabbits, coons and wild animals!. . . Keep out from under these feet, little bob-whites…. Keep the big wild hogs
out of my path. Don’t let none of those come running my direction. I got a long way.” Under her small black-freckled
hand her cane, limber as a buggy whip, would switch at the brush as if to rouse up any hiding things.
On she went. The woods were deep and still. The sun made the pine needles almost too bright to look at, up where
the wind rocked. The cones dropped as light as feathers. Down in the hollow was the mourning dove—it was not too
late for him.
The path ran up a hill. “Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far,” she said, in the voice of argument
old people keep to use with themselves. “Something always take a hold of me on this hill— pleads I should stay.”
After she got to the top she turned and gave a full, severe look behind her where she had come. “Up through pines,”
she said at length. “Now down through oaks.”
Her eyes opened their widest, and she started down gently. But before she got to the bottom of the hill a bush caught
Her fingers were busy and intent, but her skirts were full and long, so that before she could pull them free in one
place they were caught in another. It was not possible to allow the dress to tear. “I in the thorny bush,” she said.
“Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never want to let folks pass, no sir. Old eyes thought you