Eudora Welty And Jack London Essay Research

Eudora Welty And Jack London Essay, Research Paper There is a silent shadow which seems to mirror a gaunt, dark, figure who prowls the busy airports, silent streets, and even the cozy homes. There is no escaping this man,

Eudora Welty And Jack London Essay, Research Paper

There is a silent shadow which seems to mirror a gaunt, dark, figure who prowls

the busy airports, silent streets, and even the cozy homes. There is no escaping this man,

the destroyer. No walls are thick enough to shut him out, no mountain high enough to

evade his wrath. He is death… he is predetermined… he is unpredictable…to some he is

simply fascinating. The wish to live, the inability to believe in one?s own menacing death,

the universal human faith in one?s own immunity to death- all these are factors which

contribute to the sweeping popularity of Jack London and Eudora Welty?s work. People

are intrigued by death because it can not be explained. Yet, London and Welty have

comforted these fears and intrigues by allowing them to enter the twisted mind of a crazed

murderer. These authors provide them with the answers they lack and furnish them with

the ability to fathom the unfathomable. They confront the horrors of death and emphasize

the reality of its looming presence. Consequently, satisfying the fascination their readers

crave. Jack London and Eudora Welty have planted a seed of fear in the hearts of many

people through their vivid description of death, however their motives techniques, and

lifestyles have allowed them to create a diversity of approaches to portraying bloodshed.

Eudora Welty and Jack London come from very different walks of life. Welty was

born on April 13, 1909 in a small town in Jackson, Mississippi. Her community and

childhood experiences greatly influenced her style of writing as an adult. The love and

support from her parents and her close knit community growing up inspired her life long

curiosity of people and acute attention to detail. The emphasis placed on education and

reading early in life enriched her life as she grew older, and influenced her decision to

become a writer. Growing up, she recalls memories of being read to which grew into a

passion for the written word at an early age. Influenced and supported by her parents,

Welty attended the Mississippi State College for Women in 1925. After two years of

education in Mississippi, she decided to transfer to the University of Wisconsin. In 1929

she graduated from the U of W with a BA in English. Under the guidance of her father,

she attended Columbia University Business School. Where she studied advertising as a

backup for her writing. Her father thought it was important to cultivate additional skills,

in the event her writing career failed.

In 1933 she began writing for newspapers. This allowed her to become a more

well-rounded writer. As well as, provide her with experiences she would later base her

literature on. During these years, she met little success and much frustration. However in

1941, her first collection of short stories, A Curtain of Green and Other Stories was

published. Before long, the public began regarding Eudora Welty as a notable author, and

the demand for her work began to swell. Her successful short stories had created a

hunger for longer works. In 1942 her friend John Woodburn encouraged her to write The

Robber Bridegroom,, her first novel. From that point on her career as a writer flourished,

and she began supplying the public with an array of fictional literature. She wrote many

essays, critical reviews, and she even wrote for theater. She has contributed to the

popularity of show business with such plays and musicals as: The Ponder Heart, and What

Year is This? Furthermore, her published autobiography One Writer?s Beginning, was

instantly embraced by America; and has become a best-seller. Welty?s writing is riddled

with culture and experience chiefly due to her home town of Jackson Mississippi. Other

cultures contribute to the variety of her work, but overall her Mississippi heritage and

pride will always be heard through the voice of her writing (?Eudora Welty? 939-40).

The small ?southern bell? town of Jackson is miles from the sunny shores of Jack

London?s birthplace in California. And his ability to write can not be attributed to large

universities or extensive education. Jack London was a self educated man who learned

from his surroundings. His education bloomed from his experience on the California

ranches and laboring with the working class communities of Oakland. His environment

was his mentor and nourished his genius to write literature. Unable to make a dent in the

magazine outlet, London decided to get rich fast by moving to the Yukon to search for

gold. London along with his flood of dreams fled to the Klondike Gold Rush. He

returned in 1897 a poor man, but his wealth came in a different form of currency. The

precious memories and the wholeness of his experience outweighed any amount of gold he

could have brought back. He had indeed struck gold while in Yukon, and these nuggets

of adventure became the foundation of his fame and glory in later years. London found

that the peoples interest lay in his experiences, observations, and brutal depiction of the

cursed Northland.

However, his adventurous days gradually faded away. In 1900 London settled

down in Oakland and married Elizabeth May Maddern. They started a family and had two

daughters. But in 1905 their marriage came to an end and they were divorced. Wasting

no time, he married Chairmain Kitteredge within that same year. With Charmain by his

side, London set out on a seven year voyage. However, London?s poor health was

mightier than his dream; and he was forced to abandon his expedition. London spent the

last years of his life building a scientifically run ranch complex in Glen Ellen, Sonoma

County, California. His death is still a mystery to this day. At age forty-five on November

22, 1916 Jack London died at his ranch in California. Leaving behind footprints that will

stamp America?s literary soil. He has entertained his readers for years and will continue to

do so for generations. His literature is cherished all over the world and has been translated

into over fifty languages. It will take a mighty blow to knock him off the high pedestal

which many inspired writers have placed him on. Many prominent literary figures look up

to him with admiration and respect. He will continue to influence literature as

contemporaries study his legendary footprints he has left behind. (?Jack London?


Eudora Welty and Jack London?s style of writing becomes a guide on a journey to

the unfathomable depths of one?s being. The distance between two words can span from

coast to coast, and their work becomes a bridge which joins fiction and reality. Eudora

Welty stages most of her stories in small towns centered around an innocent society blind

to the wrath which is about to strike them. She plucks the reader out of their daily

routine and places them in a barren community plagued by the ruthless havoc of death. In

?Clytie? Welty begins the saga by describing a normal urban village and a typical days

events. ?A little boy kicked his bare heels into the sides of his mule, which proceeded

slowly through the town toward the country? (Welty 144). However the ordinary is

quickly overcome by the devastation of death and the mental disorder of a crazed family

living in this town. In ?Flowers for Marjorie? she shows how the city is unaware of the

murder which has taken place, and to everybody else, it is just another day. ?He set his

hat on straight and walked through the crowd of children who surged about jumping rope,

chanting and jumping around him with their lips hanging apart? (Welty 179). Welty

describes the impact death and murder can cause as an entire town becomes involved

when Death visits their conventional community in ?The Hitch-Hickers?. ?They was tryin?

to take your car, and down the street one of ?em like to bust the other one?s head wide

op?m with a bottle. Everybody?s out there. Looks like they heard the commotion? (Welty

120). By creating a common setting, Welty emphasizes the notion that death has no

barriers, and he will strike anywhere.

Jack London uses a different atmosphere to convey his image of death. He has

chosen the immense landscape of Alaska to illustrate the path death travels. He emphasis

the rustic, savage murders which occur in Alaskan villages. Even out in the middle of

nowhere Death will find a victim to snare. In ?Which Make Men Remember?, London

invites death into a desolate cabin inhabited by two fugitives trying to escape the

consequences of murdering a man in a nearby town. ?He pulled the trigger. Fortune did

not whirl, but gay San Francisco dimmed and faded, and as the sunbright snow turned

black and blacker, he breathed his last malediction on the Chance he had misplayed?

(London 172). The communities of Alaskan Indian villages also come face to face with

death. As a blood-bath breaks out during a peace meeting. The mural of death covers the

city walls, as well as, the white snowcapped mountains of Alaska, there is no escaping


The description of characters adds variety to their diverse writing. Welty uses

weak, innocent victims, while London?s victims are fearless, powerful men. This causes

compassion to seep into the hearts of Welty?s readers, and pride to swell in those of

London?s listeners. Welty?s use of description has the ability to overpower the senses and,

force her reader to become one with the characters. London use of poetic orator

transforms the reader into a small child. He writes as if he were telling a bed time story,

and lulls the small child into a fantasy world of foreign customs and uncharted territory.

Having two very different stages naturally gives rise to different themes and plots

depicted by the authors. In most of Welty?s work, she illustrates death as an unnecessary

end to life. Death is an element to life which is tragic and improper. In ?Flowers for

Marjorie? there was no justifiable logic as to why Howard killed his wife. In ?The

Hitch-Hickers? the reasoning behind the murder is not explained, hence to the reader it

seems completely unnecessary. London?s theme which trickles throughout many of his

stories is the philosophy of survival of the fittest. The fight for life, and the competition

for life is essential to survival in the rugged mountains of Alaska. In ?The Death of a

Legion?, it is obvious that it was the duty of the chief warriors to kill one another in order

to maintain the pride of their tribe; and to show the power of a chief. In ?Which Makes

Men Remember?, death becomes a game to see who can kill first. It is inevitable that

someone must die in order to ratify his own life. London emphasizes the theme of honor

in death. The only honorable thing to do was to kill and be killed in ?The Death of a

Legion?. Had the blood bath not ended with Legion being dead, then he would have been

a disgrace to his tribe. In ?Clytie?, Welty depicts the mentally disturbed women?s death as

an ultimatum to the horrible life she was forced to partake of. There was no honor in her

death. However there was no honor in her life either.

Jack London and Eudora Welty have written these brilliant works to motivate

some emotion within their readers. Welty characteristically tries to induce pity and

compassion as her primary motivater. She makes her victims fragile and weak, which

causes one to taste the bitter death the pathetic victims are facing. In ?Clytie?, Welty

takes great care to describe the main characters miserable life which she detests. Clytie

longs for beauty, youth, and love to radiate her dark soul, however there seems to be no

forecast for sunshine. In a final state of complete hopelessness, she throws herself into a

trough of water upon meeting her wretched reflection. Likewise in ?Flowers For

Marjorie? the vision of Marjorie?s limb helpless body slumped over the window seal is

etched in one?s mind. One?s heart is marinated in the description of her horrible death.

Tenderness and compassion overflows at the thought of the powerless young mother,

which evades one?s emotions. Jack London is aiming for a much different emotion to leap

out at his readers. He injects them with the excitement, honor, and adventure which leads

up to the moments before death. As he describes the blood-bath of chiefs in ?The Death

of a Legion?, he causes adrenaline to overcome any moral obligation to the character

being killed. He forms an image in one?s mind that glorifies the honor in death, and brings

out the primitive adventurer in one?s inner being. In ?Which Makes Men Remember?,

London emphasize the thrill and sport in slaughtering another man; leaving no thought to

the actual event.

The colorblind world had never seen color until Jack London?s colorful writing

opened their eyes to a new world. He describes the gold rush using a panoramic depiction

of the brutality and cruel amusement of death. His picture proved the sole importance to a

man during this time was survival and money. Little thought or care was given to the

sanity of a man as long as he could survive, and he had money to throw in on a poker

game. He describes the northern gambler, and his awareness that the life of a gambler,

especially a dishonest one, would be short lived. ?Life?s a skin-game…I never had half a

chance…I was faked in my birth and flimflammed with my mother?s milk. The dice were

loaded when she tossed the box, and I was born to prove the loss.? Chance is a gamblers

best friend or worst enemy. In addition to survival, London emphasizes a theme of

dominance and sovereignty in ?The God of His Fathers?. Sovereignty over man by nature

is London?s predominate philosophy. His theory of mastery was the idea that man will

never be able to overcome the power of nature. In the end, law and harmony will prevail

connect the ?white-man? and nature. In his earlier writing he struggled to portray

individual identity, so he turned his attention to ?blood brotherhood?(Geismar 264)

London?s does not create his characters from factual people from his past: they are

demigods, nameless heroes who lived during a fearless time in American history. Years

later theses brave men are being honored through epic stories. (Pattee 258)

Race supremacy becomes a critical issue in many of London?s short stories. The

first story in which race became a dominant theme was ?The God of His Fathers.? Jack

London writes, ?Race is the true God…? But, his philosophy is reconstructed in his later

works. Children of the Frost is the beginning of a new wave of ideas for London. It is

the death of racial identity. Mastery is murdered as London recants his belief that order

and harmony have the ability to conquer death.

?My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to

make you hear, to make you feel-it is, before all, to make you see.? (Pattee 258)

London?s ability of description created his self-proclaimed reputation of a realist. It was a

quality and style of writing that was meaningful to him. However, many critics believe

that London?s vivid description created an unrealistic picture of how things really were

during that time. They argue that he exaggerated the beauty, and disguised much of the

truth. (Pattee 258) London incorporated the literary technique of realism into the

storyboard of tragedies. These stories inspire both fear and pity. The events are sudden

and portray roles being reversed to humble the hero and show him his ignorance. (Pattee


Eudora Welty manipulates scenes, experiences and characters in her short stories

in order to arouse the readers awareness of the terror which shadows evil. In ?Clytie? she

vividly describes the scene where the old maid drowns herself in a barrel of rain water.

She paints a realistic episode which will lurk in the subconscience of every reader, and

strike fear in the hearts of every one who witnesses the incident. (Glenn 471) She creates

lifelike scenes and characters in order to provide a connection to her readers. Her

characters, settings, and experiences are so ordinary the reader can not discern reality from

fiction. She will fabricate events which run parallel to the lives of her reader. (Glenn 471)

Welty?s profound tenderness is a focal point in many of her short stories.

Particularly in ?Clytie? where she portrays a wretched old maid who dwells in a life whom

no one understands or cares to understand. She is taunted by the beauty of the world, and

is tortured by the cruelty which this wonderful world thrust upon her. Welty?s writing

always grants pity and mercy for those who are seeking love, yet are never able to attain

this emotion which is essential to life. (Jones 481) Many of Welty?s stories involve

characters who are deprived of something and are living on the edge of life. They view

this lifestyle not as a social issue, but as product of humanity. They have no desire for

standing within the community, riches or power, however they merely aspire for love and

companionship. Her character?s stand at many different places on the latter of success,

however they share a common hunger for love.(Jones 482) Welty has mastered the art of

walking the tightrope. She performs the amazing balancing act of accenting the tenderness

and brutality which can live in the hearts of humanity. (Harris 464)

In ?Flowers for Marjorie?, Welty mystifies the reader and leads them on a journey

which is indistinguishable from reality or fantasy. She brilliantly entangles Howard?s

violent dream of killing his wife into a precession of ironic events. The reader is led on a

journey, unsure if it is really happening or if it is Howard?s mind running wild. However,

in the end reality prevails and his wife?s dead body is the only reliable truth. (Hardy 487)

The descriptive details are not especially grisly; she understates, as always. But, the

blood-terror is unmistakably evoked and the terror of the inexplicable permeates the

pages. (Hardy 487) Some critics argue that Welty?s tactical scheme in ?Flowers for

Marjorie? results in a irritating parody. The sequence of ironic events and disarray of

symbols in the story produces confusion. Placing the reader in an unrealistic fantasy world.

(Hardy 487) ?The Hitch-Hikers?, unlike ?Flowers for Marjorie?, is not impaired by irony

and illusion. Welty furnishes the reader with a simple bizarre plot which leads up to a

mysterious conclusion. (Hardy 487) Welty surpasses the imagination of most authors

through her perseverance of hope which embodies the characters. This hope leads to the

ability of concrete matter to overcome and endure through the death of their users.

(Hardy 488). In ?Flowers for Marjorie?, a bouquet of dying flowers instantly become

alive again as the small girls run to put them in their hair. (Hardy 488)

Welty?s writing embody many racial undertones, however she masks this motif by

emphasizing the presence of African American humanity. She has mastered the art of

delicately capitalizing the concept that African American?s are the source of many spiritual

barricades. Nevertheless, she fails to recognize that these burdens are collateral to the

history and culture of the white man. (Hardy 488).

The works of these two great authors have presented people of present and past

with different outlooks on death through style, themes, and motive. Although their views

are distinctly personal, they both tackle the essence of mans greatest fear and fascination.

Their views represent a certain era of history which deserves to be passed down from

generation to generation through their words. Jack London and Eudora Welty engage in a

battle to help people fathom the unfathomable mystery of death. They have become the

trailblazer?s in the journey to explore the winding backroads ?Death? has traveled.


Geismar, Maxwell. ?Jack London: The Short Cut.? Rebels and Ancestors: The American Novel

1890-1915 1953: Rpt. in Short Story Criticism Ed. Thomas Votteler. vol.4. Detroit:

Gale Research Company, 1990. 264-7.

Glenn, Eunice. ?Fantasy in the Fiction of Eudora Welty.? Critics and Essays on Modern Fiction:

Representing the Achievment of Modern American and British Critics 1920-1951 1952:

506-17. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism Eds. Laurie Lanzen Harris and Sheila Fitzgerald.

vol.1. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988. 470-3.

Hardy, John Edward. ?The Achievement of Eudora Welty.? Southern Humanities Review vol. 2.

No. 3 Summer; 1968: 269-78. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism Eds. Laurie Lanzen Harris

and Sheila Fitzgerald. vol.1. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988. 487-8.

Harris, Laurie Lanzen and Sheila Fitzgerald. ?Eudora Welty.? Short Story Criticism vol.1.

Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988. 464-5.

Jones, Alun R. ?The World of Love: The Fiction of Eudora Welty.? The Creative Present: Notes

on Contemporary American Fiction 1963: Rpt. in Short Story Criticism Eds. Laurie Lanzen

Harris and Sheila Fitzgerald. vol.1. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988.