Like A Winding Sheet
A tremendous load of stress on a person can lead to anger that can be difficult to control. People can turn violent or give up on their life, if they cannot cope with the stress. A winding-sheet is a shroud in which a corpse is wrapped in for burial. Mr. Johnson, the protagonist in Like a Winding Sheet, feels like he is tangled in a winding sheet, but instead of a sheet, it is his stress that has him trapped. Mr. Johnson is having huge problems with his stress. In the beginning he just cannot get himself up from bed when he has to, so he does not come late in for work.
Johnson is working night shifts, and still after years he cannot get used to sleep during the day “l can’t get used to sleeping in the daytime It’s too light for good sleeping’. Later on it begins to take a bigger part of his day, and every time he meets any form of confrontation, he feels the need to hit someone. In the end he has to react to the urge. Before going to work he is In a quite good mood, except that he is tired, he is grateful for living with his wife Mae. Johnson is happy about Mae and in the beginning he tries to reprise her by making breakfast, but he falls asleep because he is exhausted from work.
When Mae and Johnson are arguing about him being late for work, describes a sign of him loving Mae “he couldn’t bring himself to talk to her roughly or threaten to strike her like a lot of men might have done”. The first time Mr.. Johnson meets the tingling, and where he has to stay strong mentally to not hit somebody, is where he meet his boss at work. She criticizes him for being late, again. He tries to apologies with an excuse about him having problems with his legs, but the foreman says she has heard enough excuses. Next she says “And the naggers is the worse I’m sick of you naggers”. Mr. Johnson is African American himself, and starts to get mad at the foreman. First of he is very collected and tells the foreman that it is okay for her to get mad, but that nobody has the right to call him a Niger. This is where he first has the urge to hit someone “He felt a curious tingling in his fingers and he looked down at his hands. They were clenched tight, hard, ready to smash A mixture of his lack of sleep, causing stress, and the racist comments from his boss is pulling him towards the edge of his mental Tate. The second time Johnson feels racially abused is when he stands in line for a cup Of coffee.
When it is his turn, the waitress says that there is no more coffee for a while. The waitress does a symbolic gesture “put her hands up to her head and gently lifted her hair away from the back of her neck, tossing her head back a little”, Johnson means that it is because of the fact that he is black that the waitress would not serve him coffee, and yet again he feels the urge to hit her. “What he wanted to do was hit her so hard that the scarlet picks on the mouth would smear so hard that she would never toss her head again and refuse a man a cup because he was black. Even though that he wanted to strike her, he controlled himself, even after the second racist comment in one day “But he couldn’t hit her. He couldn’t even now bring himself to hit a woman, not even this one It is clear that the racial abuse has taken its toll on him. The hair gesture the waitress did when refusing to give him a cup of coffee, keep going on and on in his head. After he tried to get coffee, he took the subway home. He tried to get some rest on the way home, but the roar of the train was beating inside his head.
The pain he had in his legs from work, started to affect his body even more “He told himself that it was due to all that anger-born energy that had pilled up in him and not been used and so it had spread through him like a poison. When he finally gets home from work and of the train, he notice that his wife is already home. This is here that he faces his anger for the third time. After saying hello to Mae, he is really irritated and even the way she chew gum irritates him. After minor discussion she curls her hair and lifts the hair to the side of her neck from the back, almost exactly like the waitress did it.
A short moment later Mae confronts him asking why he is so irritated, but instead of replying he says nothing. Then Mae says “You’re nothing but an old hungry Niger trying to act tough Then the tingling in Johnson fingers and arms started again. He stroked her in the face just as quickly as the tingling returned to him. He did not realize he had stroked her before he stroked her again he couldn’t drag his hands away from her face. He kept striking her and he Hough with horror that something inside him was holding him He had lost all control over his hands”.
At this moment all the anger that had been building up inside him was let out. All the stress, and especially the racial comments, was freed from him. The problem was that he let his anger out on his wife who he loved and cared for, but the anger had taken control over him, he was trapped inside his own body, just like a winding sheet. “he thought it was like being enmeshed in a winding sheet And even as the thought formed in his mind, his hands reached for her face again and yet again.