Paper Pills Story Summary

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Paper Pills is a famous story of George Willard, along with five other stories in his book. Doctor Reefy is the major character of this story, and it is good to say that the major theme of this story is loneliness and then disclosure in the end when the doctor died in love with George’s mother, Elizabeth.

The major emphasis of this story is on hands, and the story talks about a lonely old man. The old man, in this case, is Doctor Reefy, and the paper pills are small pieces of paper on which the doctor writes his thoughts and ideas. In the same manner, he jots down his life experience on these pieces of paper.

It is the major reason that the author calls them paper pills as these pieces of paper are a source of peace for the doctor (Flear, 2014).

The doctor uses his big old hand to put these scrap of paper into pockets of his frayed suit rather than throwing them, and the major reason behind this action is that the doctor does not want those other people to misunderstand his words written on these papers.

The story tells that the doctor finds a person to share his thoughts or feelings for a little period. She was a tall black girl of mid-ages who passes by his home as it was her family way. She was a doctor, and she was courted by two young men.

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The first young man was a jeweller who talked about her virginity. However, she dreamed that she was bitten by him in her lust. The second young man, in this case, was less talkative, but he did not only bite her but. He also made her pregnant as well.

She went to Doctor Reefy for help after this incident, and she found that he was taking out the tooth of another patient. The girl felt from the behaviour of the doctor that he was against the bestial lust, and his behaviour was the enemy towards it (Yin, 2014).

The author has used tooth as a symbol in this story, and he has used the symbol of the tooth to highlight his enemy behaviour towards bestial lust. However, Anderson compares the Doctor with the gnarled apples that are left on trees by those people who pick fruits to the city via a ship.

The doctor married that girl, and the author explains the personality of his wife as a person who has sensed the sweetness of the twisted apples, and it was the major reason that it was a hard nut to crack for her to fix her mind again for the perfect round fruit that has been eaten by another person in apartments of a city (Flear, 2014).

Highlights of The Paper Pills

The most interesting thing, in this case, is that the wife of doctor Reefly lived with him for only a few months after their marriage, and he had to live alone again. He was unable to communicate with others, and the only source of his communication with others was his paper pills.

Furthermore, Anderson explains that he spent all his day sitting in a shadowed window of his office. Moreover, Anderson says that the doctor never tried to open that window and look outside of it. Once he tried to open it on a hot summer day in August, but he was unable to open it as it was stuck badly, and then he never tried to open it again, and he forgot about this idea for the rest of his life.

Another major character, in this case, is Wang, and his character is less pitiful than doctor Reefy, and the major reason behind the fact is that Wang has experienced love and companionship for few months in his life, and he can communicate with others as well (Yin, 2014).

Therefore, it is easier for him to explain his feelings, needs, and desires to others. On the other hand, it is not the case for doctor Reefy, and the major reason is that he is unable to communicate with others, and due to his inability, he is more pitiful.

The paper pills of doctor Reefy highlights a major dilemma of all the physicians around the world to cure ills in the world. It means that all doctors and physicians in the world are unable to cure the internal illness of people or illness of the soul.

Their pills can give soothing to a body, but their pills cannot soothe the soul of a person like a doctor Reefy. The most important thing about the story is that Anderson has tried to make people feel this story as nothing is happening in the story, and there is no dialogue in the story (Flear, 2014).

It means that all characters in the story are silent, and the author wants people to feel this story if they want to understand his masterpiece.

In simple words, the author has targeted feelings of loneliness, love, empathy, and disclosure at the same time. Elizabeth was raped by two young men, and she became pregnant. She came to doctor Reefy for seeking medical assistance, and they fall for each other, and the doctor married him.

He starting living a peaceful life, but their marriage could not retain longer, and she left the doctor after some months, and he became alone again in his life (Yin, 2014).

The major thing is that the doctor cannot communicate with others, and it is the major reason that he writes on a scrap of paper and puts his writings in his pocket as he is not willing to share his thoughts and ideas with others. He fears that other people might misunderstand him, and they may not be able to understand his sentiments.


To conclude, the story is one of the best stories of the author, and the most significant thing about this story is that it has no dialogues, and nothing is actually happening in this story. The author wants the reader to feel his emotions and sentiments of the story.


Flear, M. (2014). Book Review: Pills for the Poorest.

Yin, L. I. (2014). Escaping the Self—An Analysis of Anderson’s Writing Strategy from the Personal Character in Paper Pills. Journal of Hebei North University (Social Science Edition), (1), 6.

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