Winesburg, Ohio: Novel Summary: The Philosopher & Nobody Knows
Doctor Parcival is one of the town's three doctors, but he has very few patients. Nonetheless, he is financially comfortable. He likes to visit George Willard at the offices of the Winesburg Eagle to tell the young man about his ideas. He tells stories about his past life, but many times they are contradictory, so George does not know what to believe. He also tries to instruct George to distrust and dislike all other people. When he refuses to come attend to a dead girl, Doctor Parcival thinks the people will lynch him. He tells George that, if he is killed, George should write his book for him: "The idea is very simple, so simple that if you are not careful you will forget it. It is this-that everyone in the world is Christ and they are all crucified" (42).
George Willard meets Louise Trunnion at her urging and the two of them have a liaison in the night. At first, she plays coy and asks how he knows she even wants to go with him, which annoys George, as she sent a note inviting him. The note said, "I'm yours if you want me." George is not particularly interested in Louise, but he takes the opportunity that presents itself to him. He walks away from their encounter in a field reassuring himself that no one will know about their sexual contact and so she will not be able to accuse him of anything.
All of the people in this book are stuck on some idea or another that limits their ability to function within the world. Doctor Parcival's idea is that cruelty makes some people superior to others and that everyone is persecuted. Like the others in the book, he feels the need to share his thoughts with George. People like to unburden themselves to George because he is a good listener, which is probably why he is a good reporter.
The lonely characters in this book find that George is a person they can connect to in one way or another. Louise, too, turns to George for some kind of human connection, albeit a physical one. All people are lonely, isolated by their "truths," and yet they keep hoping to connect to one another. George, who is still young and has not become a grotesque, provides that opportunity.
Winesburg, Ohio Study GuideChoose to Continue
- Winesburg, Ohio
- A Man of Ideas
- An Awakening
- Godliness I - VI
- Paper Pills
- Respectability, The Thinker & Tandy
- The Book of the Grotesque
- The Philosopher & Nobody Knows
- The Strength of God & The Teacher
- The Untold Lie
- Character Profiles
- Metaphor Analysis
- Theme Analysis
- Top Ten Quotes
- Sherwood Anderson
- Essay Q&A