Winesburg, Ohio Paper Pills Summary & Analysis

Paper pills story

Winesburg, Ohio Paper Pills Summary & Analysis

While reading this story I was reminded of a novel, named “Forty Rules of Love”. Both the stories are romantic and the amazing resemblance between them is that both portray a core concept that you find love when you are destined to get it.

Background of Paper Pills Story

Sherwood Anderson’s Paper Pills short story is quite enchanting. It is more amazing and heart-touching than most of the movies and novels, though it is a short story. This Paper Pills story explains different parts of this story individually and at the end all the concepts seem to merge into a comprehensible story that takes the reader’s heart.

An old man, named Doctor Reefy, aged around forty five years, marries a beautiful young lady, whose characteristics the writer defines as quiet, tall and dark. The old man had a habit of writing his thoughts or kind of truths (the content of whom the writer does not share in his story) and storing them in his pockets. In his pockets those thought carrying papers turn hard into ball-like structures and when the space in his pockets fills he dumps them away. Another trait of this old man is that he wears the same dress for almost ten years.

The old man has only one close friend, who owns a tree nursery. This old friend was tremendously sentimental, whenever both friends sat together this friend started telling him his sentimental stories. He would stop only when Doctor Reefy threw his paper balls at him and asked him to be quiet.

The woman who married this old man had recently inherited farmland from her parents and she was quite resourceful. She became lonely after her parents’ death. To escape from loneliness she started dating different types of men, among whom only two grabbed her attention for being able to be married to. One of the men was into her virginity while the other was always in search of the occasion to make out with her. She had selected one of them to get married to, however, at the same time she fell ill and needed to consult a doctor. She visited Doctor Reefy and with this their love story began.

The sad thing here is that their intimate life did not last longer and she died only within one year of getting married leaving this old man alone once again. The writer resembled the woman as the person who finds sweetness in twisted apples leftover by pickers.

Personal View about Paper Pills Story

The thing that most impressed me about Paper Pills Story was the way the writer compared the woman with the person who enjoys sweetness of twisted apples that are rejected by pickers and that are not eaten in apartments. In orchards of Winesburg, one walks through it. The apples of trees have been plucked and shipped to the cities where people will eat them while sitting in their apartments. In the orchard only twisted apples left which the writer resembles with Reefy’s large sized hands with huge knuckles. These twisted apples have their sweetness gathered at one side and only a few people can enjoy their sweetness.

However, the death of the woman makes the story quite a twist in the story as she leaves her resources with the old man, who seems to be quite mournful over her death.


The story is unique in its own sense. Unlike other fairy tales and romantic stories, this story is a series of certain events that led to the marriage of Doctor Reefy and the rich woman followed by her death within one year of their marriage. One who is fond of classical stories will certainly be enlightened to read this short story. This story portrays that love knows no material belongings or physical beauty; rather it embraces the beauty of the soul that the woman found in the old man and in his pieces of writing that he had in his pockets. One may wonder that these thoughts, written on papers that were crumpled in the old man’s pockets, might be the reason that motivated the woman to choose this old man as her partner.