Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Welty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Welty. Show all posts

25 July, 2016

Eudora Welty, "The Bride of the Innisfallen"

Published November 24, 1951 in The New Yorker, "The Bride of the Innisfallen,"tells the story of a young bride "leaving London without her husband's knowledge" and boards a train to Fishguard and will then board a boat for Cork, Ireland while the reader sees and hears the lively Irish discussions and goings on, and a Welsh gentleman as well. It is not until nearly the end of the story that we realize what the theme is. For me, it's in this paragraph.



"Love with the joy being drawn out of it like anything else that aches--that was loneliness; not this. I was nearly destroyed, she thought, and again was threatened with a light head, a rush of laughter, as when the Welshman had come so far with them and then let off.

If she could never tell her husband her secret, perhaps she would never tell it at all. You must never betray pure joy--the kind you were born and began with--either by hiding it or by parading it in front of people's eyes; they didn't want to be shown it."

15 July, 2014

Eudora Welty, "A Worn Path"

Phoenix Jackson walks to town to obtain medicine for her injured grandson which she has done many times before. She is "very old" and her path to town long and through the woods. She encounters a young white man who is arrogant and assumes Phoenix is on her way to town just to see Santa Claus. "I know you old colored people! Wouldn't miss going to town to see Santa Claus." He tries to intimidate her with his gun but she is stoic and brave. She makes it to town, encounters more hatred of the patronizing sort, obtains her grandson's medicine and decides to buy him a toy.

Welty begins the story with descriptions of Phoenix, her clothes and the pinewoods. When she sits down to rest, she imagines a boy offering "her a plate with a slice of marble-cake." She also encounters a scarecrow that she thinks is a ghost. Then "she went in the ditch, like a little puff of milkweed." The white man comes along with his dog. He pulls her up out of the ditch.

Her name is a metaphor for her strength to rise again and again as the phoenix. The story is told in a close 3rd person POV. "A Worn Path" was published as part of the collection A Curtain of Green and Other Stories. My copy is from The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.

13 July, 2014

Eudora Welty, "The Death of a Traveling Salesman"

This is the story of R.J. Bowman, a traveling shoe salesman in Mississippi. He gets lost and then his car falls into a ravine. He gets out and walks to the only house in sight. A woman greets him and says that Sonny can retrieve his car for him as soon as he returns. Sonny uses a mule to pull the car out. They eat dinner together and Sonny pats down Bowman to make sure he isn't a revenuer. Then they go down to the stream and dig out a bottle of moonshine. They share a drink. Bowman finds out that the woman is not the mother of Sonny but his wife and she is expecting a child. Sonny retrieves some fire and they allow Bowman to sleep on the floor. However, he cannot sleep. He leaves all of his money and returns to his car where he collapses.

12 July, 2014

Eudora Welty, "Why I Live at the P.O."

Sister is telling about the family dynamics that caused her to move to and live at the post office where she is post-mistress. Told in 1st POV with an obviously unreliable narrator.

Sister went to Normal school and supposedly her grandfather used his influence to get her the job as post-mistress. They live in China Grove, Mississippi, with the next to the smallest post office in the state. 

Sister’s younger sister, Stella-Rondo, is spoiled and lost her Add-A-Pearl necklace when she played baseball at age nine. Stella went away with Mr. Whitaker, who had dated Sister first, and has now come home with no warning and a two-year old child, Shirley T. 

When Stella returns she tells everyone that Shirley T. is adopted and the mother says she believes her. “I prefer to take my children’s word for anything when it’s humanly possible” 


A series of misunderstandings and confusions perpetrated by Stella keep everyone upset with Sister. However, jealously and anger have caused Sister to be passive aggressive upsetting her younger sister who is histrionic. What a family. Uncle Rondo is drunk on the Fourth of July and Papa-Daddy just wants to swing in the hammock. 

Several times throughout the story the narrator addresses the reader, the listener at the post office. "But oh, I like it here. It's ideal, as I've been saying."

Uncle Rondo throws lit fireworks into Sister’s bedroom “And I’ll tell you it didn’t take me any longer than a minute to make up my mind what to do…So I just decided I’d go straight down to the P.O.” Then sister goes around the house collecting what she deems as hers and even digs  some flowers out of the ground. She’s been at the post office for five days when she tells her story and “if Stella-Rondo should come to me this minute, on bended knees, and attempt to explain the incidents of her life with Mr. Whitaker, I’d simply put my fingers in both my ears and refuse to listen.”

10 July, 2014

Eudora Welty, "Asphodel"

The day after Miss Sabina's funeral, Cora, Irene and Phoebe take a horse and buggy to Asphodel, the burned down McInnis house. All that remains are the Doric columns. The three women (maidens) have a picnic. They reminisce about Miss Sabina who had married Mr. Don McInnis, arranged by her father and told to "submit." Asphodel was forbidden by Miss Sabina but the women visit the day after her funeral. "'If there's one place in the solid world where Miss Sabina would never look for us, it's Asphodel,' they said."

After Miss Sabina's husband cheated on her and her three children died just as they reached adulthood, Miss Sabina looked upon the town with hatred and wielded power over everything and everyone.

"...for she was bent on destruction. A fury and a pleasure seemed to rise inside her..."

09 July, 2014

Eudora Welty, "The Purple Hat"






The fat man goes to Royal Street bar in New Orleans and tells the bartender and a young drunk about the woman who wears a purple hat and goes to the gambling hall every evening at five, meets a young man, has a sexual tryst and leaves at midnight. However, he has seen her murdered twice and has decided that she is a ghost.

"'Ghost!' said the bartender--noncommittally, just as he might repeat an order."



06 July, 2014

Eudora Welty, "A Curtain of Green"

During my stay in Jackson, Mississippi, I'm reading Eudora Welty short stories. Today, it is "A Curtain of Green." In just six pages, Welty, tackles issues of life and death, power, white privilege and the natural world.

This day is going to be different and we know that right away. It didn't rain much in Larkin's Hill but it was regular until "One day, almost as late as five o'clock, the sun was still shining." There is a sense of restlessness and stifling heat. "Nearly all the women sat in the windows of their houses, fanning and sighing, waiting for the rain."

10 April, 2012

Eudora Welty, "Flowers for Marjorie"

"Flowers for Marjorie" takes place sometime around 1935-1941 with Howard unable to find work. Marjorie is three months from giving birth. The entire story takes place in the space of a few hours. Howard has been sitting in the park when he was supposed to be looking for work. He returns home. SPOILER ALERT. An encounter between Marjorie and Howard is not particularly heated but the worthlessness and frustration felt by Howard is palpable and all the worse because Marjorie "never notice(s) any more the single and lonely life around her." Without premeditation Howard stabs and kills Marjorie. He leaves their apartment and wanders around town until he is compelled to tell a policeman that Marjorie is dead in the apartment. Welty's stories clearly show the dysfunctional in personalities and it is in showing mostly, as I recall. For example, Howard's gestures in the way he sits in the park and the way he speaks to Marjorie show someone feeling isolated and frustrated and overwhelmed with the feeling of aloneness even amid all the people he encounters.
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I'm looking forward to Dr. Robert Gowdy's discussion tomorrow evening.

Session description:  This month’s presentation is based on a book published by the Dr. Robert Gowdy which undertakes a psychoanalytic interpretation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Eudora Welty’s “Flowers for Marjorie.” The session will focus on Welty’s  “Flowers for Marjorie.” The short story can be summed up this way: “[The protagonist’s] imagination taunts him with the unrelenting knowledge of his failure to find work and anticipates in brutal detail the starvation he and his wife now face, so that he can no longer believe in the possibility of altering their future. In terror and insanity, he kills [his wife] to stop time from progressing. Yet immediately after [his wife’s] death, events begin to mock him at every turn with the lesson that change can happen” (Gail Mortimer).   
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This story was from the collection, A Curtain of Green and Other Stories published in 1944.

Dr. Gowdy presented his idea that Howard dreamt that he killed Marjorie as his subconscious was trying to solve his dire situation, a new baby on its way and unemployment. I agree there are many hints at dreaminess. However, I think that Howard both dreamt that he killed Marjorie and that he fulfilled the dream. "Then Howard knew for a fact that everything had stopped. It was just as he had feared, just as he had dreamed. He had had a dream to come true."

01 May, 2010

Eudora Welty's "A Piece of News"

Enjoyed listening to the reading of Eudora Welty's short story, "A Piece of News." It was read at Symphony Space and aired on KERA. It's funny and sad. Written in 1937 and a close 3rd person POV. Ruby Fisher reads a newspaper article that says her husband shot her in the leg. He hadn't and he didn't but it's pretty funny until Clyde points out to Ruby that the newspaper is from Tennessee so it couldn't possibly be referring to her.

12 February, 2010

Eudora Welty, "Why I Live at the P.O." and Karen Shepard, "There Be Monsters"

Listened to a 1953 recording of Eudora Welty reading her short story, "Why I Live at the PO." I was surprised that she read it so quickly almost without pausing at the commas.

Read short story, "There Be Monsters," by Karen Shepard published in Volume 11 Number 2 edition of Tin House. It is written in 3rd person shifting POV, present tense. It explores Natalie (who appears depressed) and Lloyd's disintegrating marriage. Bringing an ex-boyfriend into their home, Natalie remembers learning how to "flying lead changes" with a horse. Natalie decides that she needs to teach her daughters how to "throw their weight," "change their lead." The theme I think is best captured in one of Shepard's sentences concerning the high school girl who committed suicide, "...the girl had tried to keep her sadness from the person she cared about most. She'd tried and failed."

30 January, 2010

Eudora Welty, "Why I Live at the P.O.," and Barb Johnson, "Keeping Her Difficult Balance"

Read again, after many years, Eudora Welty's short story, "Why I Live at the P.O." Funny story about family members, their complicated psychological history, and the pokes at each other foibles. Stella-Rondo brings home her 2-year old child--divorced or never married--and Sister is convinced Stella sets the rest of the family against her. Afer Uncle Rondo throws firecrackers into her bedroom, Sister decides to go live at the post office at which she is the postmistress. Several times, Sister, 1st person POV, speaks directly to the reader, "Do you remember who it was really said that?"

Also, read the second story in Barb Johnson's book, More of This World or Maybe Another, titled, "Keeping Her Difficult Balance." We meet Delia again, she was the protagonist in the first story. Now it is two years later and she and Calvin are about to be married and she's realizing it is not what she wants.