Tandy by Sherwood Anderson
In Tandy by Sherwood Anderson we have the theme of belief, loneliness, self-image, influence, identity and hope. Taken from his Winesburg, Ohio collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Anderson may be exploring the theme of belief. Tom Hard is agnostic and tries to persuade everyone that he meets that there is no God. That there is just life and a hard life at that. He can’t understand how God would allow for people to grow hungry or live in poverty hence his preaching to others. If anything there is a sense that Tom is lost to his ideals. Nobody really listens to him nor do they understand him. He really only has an audience of one. With nobody in the story really listening to him and carrying on with their business. In reality Tom serves no purpose to anyone in town or to Tandy.
It is only after meeting the stranger that Tandy feels she has a sense of purpose and an image she can identify with. Which may highlight just how lonely Tandy has been up until the stranger arrived. She has had nobody to talk to or there is nobody to listen to her due to her father’s ways and preaching. If anything Tandy is forgotten by her father. Which may leave some critics to suggest that Tandy is unloved or that whatever loss Tandy and her father have suffered is too great for the father to love again. The importance of the stranger cannot be underestimated. It is he who after all gives Tandy her name. A name that suggests hope. Something that Tandy has not previously had in her life. It is as though the stranger brings meaning to Tandy’s life. The stranger is a tremendous influence on Tandy. So much so that she now wants to be addressed as Tandy.
This may be significant as Tandy may see her name representing hope. A hope that she has not previously had in her life. Tom and Tandy are poor and see very little light in their life. Particularly because of Tom’s actions and his agnostic beliefs. He does not allow for hope in his or his daughters life. There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. Tandy’s enthusiasm for her name may highlight Tandy’s need to change her outlook on life. As mentioned neither Tom or Tandy live a full life. Perhaps with the name change Tandy believes things will get better. It might also be important to remember that though the stranger is a drunk. He does at times speak wise words that have a great effect on Tandy. If anything the drunk is being selfless when he passes on his knowledge to Tom and Tandy. Despite being a drunk he still has the ability to communicate logically with others.
The end of the story is also interesting as Tandy is adamant that she should be addressed by her new name. She fully believes in the drunk’s stories and the value of women. It is as though Tandy’s encounter with the drunk has given her a voice. A voice that she likes and wishes to keep. Tandy has found her place in society and aims to claim it for herself. Regardless of what others might think. The reader also suspects that now that Tandy has found her voice there will be no stopping her. Her life will improve and she may very well alienate herself from her father’s agnostic views. A young girl through the coincidence of meeting a drunk has discovered who she is. She has found her identity and will not allow for others to take it away from her. Regardless of what others might think. The name Tandy symbolizes all that is good in a woman and Tandy wants to be a part of that. She can live her life with her father being an agnostic but cannot live without being called Tandy. Her new name is a symbol of strength in Tandy’s eyes and a name to be looked up to and admired. If anything the future is bright for Tandy.