- My age:
- I am 37
On every she tacitly gives him credit for being adequately prepared to face the shock of truth, sufficiently enamored of the real to relish its unexpected faces, rational enough to know that reason yields in the end to mystery. Her view of life is not idealized, nor is it tough in the sense of denying mortal existence its proper and inalienable graces. We are safe, in reading a Welty novel, from being dinned at, scolded, hoodwinked, lectured, flattered or condescended to.
Eudora welty: the three moments
I want the reader to understand the people, and people as individuals. What I do in writing of any character is to try to enter into the mind, heart, and skin of a human being who is not myself. Whether this happens to be a man or a woman, old or young, with skin black or white, the primary challenge lies in making the jump itself. This essay is an attempt to elucidate what that metaphor means in practice. What does it mean for Eudora Welty to make the jump? How does she do it? What strategies does she employ for coming to terms with otherness?
Further: What does it mean for Welty to write with love? How does she love something while at the same time bringing into being? How does she avoid sentimentality? How does she guide our judgement?
It is through the form of her stories that Welty loves; it is narrative technique that allows her to enter into the minds, hearts, and skins of human beings who are not herself. In other words, every narrative has an ethics, but not every narrative is about ethics. I choose to call this aspect ethicalbecause any formal choice within a communicative situation is value-laden.
Any eudora ladies lonely this evening
What is said comes into focus through what is not said. How a character or event is narrated may be highlighted through comparison with the means that have not been chosen. Who is given voice? Who is silenced? Who is characterized directly, who indirectly? Who is the focalizer? Who is focalized? What events are elided?
What events are described scenically? Whose minds may we enter and whose not? How are these depictions of consciousness structured? I particularly want to focus on how Welty maintains her distance, while at the same time creating sympathy for her characters. I hope to show that for Welty, love and separateness are as much a part of the creative process as they are a reality in the created world.
In other words, in A Curtain of Greenwe may observe Welty making some of her most daring jumps. This is one of the many direct and indirect questions raised by this deceptively simple narrative, depicting a scene from the life of a young country woman.
The young woman is Ruby Fisher, willing of body and imagination, who comes home one day after an afternoon of infidelity and re in the newspaper about a woman named Ruby Fisher having been shot in the leg by her husband. The rambling reverie that this reading sets off is the stuff of the story, as is what happens when dream meets reality, when Ruby is faced with the flesh-and-blood presence of her husband Clyde, rather than a romantic vision. The narrator immediately and irrevocably draws attention to her own disembodied presence by giving us a long scene where Ruby is entirely alone.
No one sees her, no one hears her, but the narrator. The narrator has the power to interpret and to generalize about the myriad of actions Ruby performs, to speed up or slow down the telling of the tale, and to describe both people and things, often by comparing them with other things, directly through simile or implicitly through metaphor. Her hair is like a piece of silk, but it and metonymically its owner are not expensive. This makes us wonder how old Ruby really is.
Is she a young girl or just like one? Also, the reference to the baby raises the question of why there is no child for her to love. The narrator plays a vital and active role in the ifying process, watching Ruby with such care and attention that she comes to identify entirely with her needs.
What these words of estrangement imply is that the narrator does not know if her conjectures are correct. They are connotators of restricted knowledge. The external point of view, as a compositional device, draws its ificance from its affiliation with the phenomenon of ostranenieor estrangement. There was some way she began to move her arms that was mysteriously sweet and yet abrupt and tentative, a delicate and vulnerable manner, as though her breasts gave her pain. She made many unnecessary trips back and forth across the floor, circling Clyde where he sat in his steamy silence, a knife and fork in his fists.
As a consequence, our understanding is affected to the extent that we sometimes feel the narrator is actively getting in the way of that understanding. A shudder of cold brushed over her in the heat, and she seemed striped with anger and bewilderment.
The collected stories welty's childhood in jackson was in a household of readers and in a town not yet industrialized, where schools and parks and grocery stores were all within walking distance of her home.
She said nothing more and, backing against the door, pushed it closed with her hip. Her anger passed like a remote flare of elation. We do not need to enter her thoughts, because Ruby in her childlike way lets everything show. Consider the following sample:. Clyde would have to buy her a dress to bury her in.
He would have to dig a deep hole behind the house, under the cedar, a grave. He would have to nail her up a pine coffin and lay her inside.
Then he would have to carry her to the grave, lay her down and cover her up This is in fact a rather loose form of free indirect speech; what Dorrit Cohn calls narrated monologue 14 and passim. This is reflected in the simple, repetitive sentence structure e. Again the joke is on Ruby, who has sold herself for nothing. The narrator is willing Clyde to be what Ruby wants him to be. But she drew herself in, still holding the empty plate, faced him straightened and hardand they looked at each other. The moment filled full with their helplessness.
Slowly they both flushed, as though with a double shame and a double pleasure. It was as though Clyde might really have killed Ruby, and as though Ruby might really have been dead at his hand. Rare and wavering, some possibility stood timidly like a stranger between them and made them hang their he. She has had a vision of how things once were and of how they might be, that Clyde has not. Thus I cannot agree with the critics who take this scene as evidence of how both Ruby and Clyde, for a brief moment, have a flash of insight and see each other in a new light.
Ruth M. McDonald, Jr. To him it is all just an unconceivable mistake, which is cleared up to his complete satisfaction when he discovers the paper is from Tennessee. The only possibility that stands wavering between them, whether the narrator is willing to admit it or not, is the strong possibility that the couple is hopelessly mismatched and that they will never understand each other. There is no reason to believe that Clyde should suddenly experience a quantum leap of understanding and intuit the fantasy awakened in Ruby by the newspaper item.
The reason why so many critics seem willing to believe that Ruby and Clyde experience a moment of mutual revelation and communion is that the narrator seems to want to believe it. As we have just seen, this belief is not logical.
A national journal of literature & discussion
The narrator has allowed herself to be carried away by her love for Ruby. In a story such as this, where an intellectual narrator tries to understand a semiliterate woman, there is bound to be distance on many planes. Yet morally and emotionally there is no distance.
On the emotional level, there is identification to the extent that the narrator begins to fantasize herself. For Ruby is a performer--a performer without an audience.
A national journal of literature & discussion shelves: classic-or-cannonical , short-story-collections i was introduced to this book by a smooth-talking, cool, british professor, who mentioned it was his favorite.
No matter what she may feel, there is no one watching Ruby Fisher. In this and many other stories, we admire her daring in writing about people and parts of life which are far removed from her own personal experience. Booth, Wayne C.
The Rhetoric of Fiction. Harmondsworth: Penguin, Berkeley: U of California P, Cohn, Dorrit. Fowler, Roger. Linguistics and the Novel. London: Methuen, Gretlund, Jan Nordby.