Short Story Essay: Symbolism of the “Hand”

1 January 2017

She goes in depth to describe the positioning of their bodies. The wife first notices the husband as being a, “handsome, blond young man, recently widowed, good at tennis and rowing” almost as being a perfect person. She also is reveling in the fact that he had only been widowed one short month ago, and now he was happily married with her. She is too overjoyed and happy to sleep. The wife begins to admire all the little things about him; his eyelashes, mouth, skin color, etc. She then turns her head and notices his hand.

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When she begins describing his hand her thought processes change drastically. Second, she starts by describing his hand as massive. She is startled by the fact that his hand is larger than her head. That alone could have a couple different symbols. It describes how powerful he is or it even could describe his power over her. That could easily be assumed because of the year that the story was written in, which was the 1920s. Women play a much different role in modern society than they did in that society.

Then she describes his finger nails telling us how they are polished. This could be a sign to show us how wealthy he is. This goes hand in hand with the sports he played. Rowing and tennis were generally played by the rich and wealthy. He then stretches his hand out and postures it to where it looks apelike. She is so disturbed by the sudden change that she interjects. She also describes the hand to be like a crab. She lets it bother her so much that it makes her skin crawl. She goes on to describe his hand as beast like even with his polished finger nails.

This could be symbolic for how he seems like a wealthy gentleman, but on the inside, he really is a beast. In the end, she decides to not let his monstrous hands bother her. In conclusion, there are many symbolic meanings in this story. One could take from it the impeccability of our human nature to point out flaws. One could also take from it that nobody is perfect. Perhaps his hands could even become an endearment. The act of her kissing the monstrous hand was also symbolic in that she took the bad with the good. “The Hand” is riddled with symbolic meanings.

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