Eudora Welty’s writing style and use of theme and setting aided her in becoming one of the greatest writers of all time. Welty credits her family for her success. “Without the love and belief my family gave me, I could not have become a writer to begin with” (Welty, IX). Eudora Welty’s writings are light- hearted and realistic. Her stories explore common everyday life. Eudora Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on April 13, 1909. She was an observant child. She was fascinated by sounds and sights, human voices and the changing of seasons. Welty’s happy childhood and serene life is reflected in her fiction. Eudora Welty’s ability to observe created her talent to precisely tell situations as they would be seen. This talent brings her stories to life. The in-depth accounts that she writes of jump off of the page and into the readers’ imagination. The descriptive passages in her fiction bring about vibrant images in the readers’ mind.
The short story “A Memory” opens up with a clear visual image. “The water shone like steel, motionless except for the feathery curl behind a distant swimmer. From my position I was looking through a rectangle brightly lit, actually glaring at me with sun, sand, water, a little pavilion, a few solitary people in fixed attitudes, and around it all a border of dark rounded oak trees, like that engraved thunderclouds surrounding illustrations in the bible”(Welty,75). Welty’s long sentence structure and word usage allows the reader to feel as though he or she were the one sitting on the beach. This description helps the reader to be involved in the story.
He or she could feel as though he or she were a part of the story instead of someone only looking in. As the story progresses, the main character, a young girl incorporates her crush on a young boy with the sights at the beach. The young boy who barely knows she exists constantly in her thoughts. “Welty has given, and will continue to give(For these works are soundly made and will stand) a literature that reaches great stature in it’s theme of love”(Schlueter, 535).
Eudora Welty captures the feelings of being in love and shows them brilliantly on paper. The reader immediately empathizes with the young girl who cannot stop thinking of her young love. “My love had somehow made me doubly austere in my observation of what went on about me. Through some intensity I had come almost into a dual life, as observer and dreamer”(Welty, 76). The young girls ability to see reality is overtaken by her fantasy of her crush. The child blindly stares about her; she sees the other bathers partially in a dreamlike state. Welty’s ability to change from fantasy to reality and past to present is called a confluence. She uses this technique in this story as well as in many others.
In the short story “Lily Daw and the Three Ladies,” Lily Daw is a mentally unstable girl. Three women of the town decide to enroll her in the Ellisville Institute for the feeble minded of Mississippi. The characters in the story speak as though the story were a stage play. Through this style a lot is learned about the three women and their personalities.
The character Lilt Daw has had a rough childhood. The three women seem to act as her guardians.. Lily tells them that she is getting married but they do not believe her. They convince her that it is best if she goes to the institute. After Lily has boarded the train to go to Ellisville Institute, one of the women meets the man who is supposed to marry Lily. The woman, who is shocked that this gentleman exists, runs to the train to get Lily. The other two women emerge from the train to meet the gentleman. In all of the commotion one cannot be sure whether or not Lily has gotten off of the train.
The story ends in great uncertainty. The reader cannot be sure whether or not Lily marries. “Miss Welty revels in working in terms of concious ambiguity, she leaves the last word unsaid, the ultimate action unconsummated”(Kramer, 327). Many of Welty’s works end in the same way, she leaves the final thought up to the reader. The stories do not end in fact but allow the reader to use his or her imagination. In the story “The Wide Net,” once again Welty uses the theme love. William Wallace loves his wife greatly but he decides to go drinking with the boys and stay out one whole night. To get even with her insensitive husband, Hazel Wallace writes a suicide note and hides. When William Wallace reads the note he and his buddies set out to find Hazel’s body in the river. During his expedition, William fantasizes of his wife and how much he really loves her.
“William Wallace looked down as though he thought of Hazel with the shining eyes, sitting at home and looking straight before her, like a piece of pure gold, too precious to touch” (Welty,176). After the long day of dragging the river looking for his wife, William returns home to find his wife safe. The whole experience teaches each of them a lesson about love. “Through dream, as through art, man can express and realize his secret self: through love, as through art, he can communicate that secret self to others: for art she believes is the power to convey love”(Kramer, 329). The realistic qualities of Welty’s work help it to be extremely believable. The feelings and expressions she catches on paper are profound. Love which is the most difficult emotion to define is clearly illustrated in Welty’s works.
Her great imagination and ability to look at ordinary human activity in a different light sets Miss Welty apart from many other writers, “She participates in life around her with such perception and fidelity that she catches it exact, and then she colors it and carves it into an entity beyond the realism of daily life, which is just what the people of her region have done with the often shallow and monotonous basic material of their lives”(Kramer,329). Welty’s poetic style and understanding of human life are obviously a brilliant combination. She uses love, community and communication for the basis of many of her stories. Another common technique she uses is to employ her home state of Mississippi as the setting for her stories. By doing this, she can write in diction that she knows; as well as being able to create both black and white southern characters for her fiction.
Welty’s characters are authentically southern, their moods, and gestures and entirely are sculpted to the finest detail. Her characters are so true to life that they seem to speak for themselves. “With their wide range in style, point of view, subject matter and fictional modes, Miss Welty has thoroughly investigated the possibilities inherit in the short story form, enriching and extending the potential of this genre”(Kramer,329). Miss Welty currently lives in her Jackson home and continues to write. She is an extremely private person and has chosen not to release most of her personal papers or to authorize a biography. She feels that her work should stand alone as the expression of her imagination.
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