Eudora Welty: Her Life And Her Works Essay, Research Paper
Eudora Welty: Her Life and Her Works
Eudora Welty’s writing style and us 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 meet 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
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, 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 authorizea biography. She feels that
her work should stand alone as the expression of her imagination.