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welty

welty

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Published by Clancy Ratliff
A paper I wrote in undergrad, posted for lulz.
A paper I wrote in undergrad, posted for lulz.

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Published by: Clancy Ratliff on Nov 22, 2010
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08/13/2014

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Eudora Welty: Social Significance in "A Piece of News" and"Where Is the Voice Coming From?"Clancy Ratliff Dr. Jean JohnsonEnglish 3417 April 1997
 
Eudora Welty: Social Significance in "A Piece of News" and"Where Is the Voice Coming From?"Several of Eudora Welty's stories, such as "Why I Live at the P.O.", are humorousand entertaining. Most of her fiction, however, shows a higher purpose at work. Welty's paramount talent is her ability to express her characters' thoughts and emotions. Sheenters their inner selves, and she shows the universality of human experience throughthem. Particularly in "A Piece of News" and "Where Is the Voice Coming From?", Weltycreates a character's testimony which stands as an example for society, and which asksthe reader to become aware of problems in society.Admittedly, Welty does not often embrace the injustices in Deep South society asmaterial for her work. In One Writer's Beginnings, she says that most of her work centerson "human relationships" (95). She believes that authors should not allow the "politicalideas of the time" to govern their work. Welty has been accused of not participating incauses or movements, especially civil rights and feminism, but she "thinks she wasalways clear about those issues" (To the Bone 111). She takes a stand on social issues, but expresses it in a subtle, descriptive manner. As Charles Clerc writes, " . . . no literarywork exists in a vacuum. Fiction is the art of lying well, but every story comes out of a particular time and place, and may convey that zeitgeist . . . " (396). Although she doesnot suggest solutions to social problems, Welty creates awareness of the problems.Awareness of a problem in society will hasten its solution. She is simply taking the firststep toward a solution: she is "defining the problem", as the first step in the scientificmethod states.One of the testimonial characters which Welty presents to the audience is RubyFisher. In her story "A Piece of News," Welty reveals a character who is consumed by
 
loneliness, who has a great need of attention, and who shares an unfulfilling, oppressiverelationship with Clyde, her domineering husband.To amuse herself when she is alone, Ruby talks to herself and sashays around thehouse. She appears to be lonely in the domestic sphere, as Welty conveys when she findsthe bag of coffee wrapped in a newspaper: "She must have been lonesome and slow allher life, the way things would take her by surprise" (Welty Collected 12). She isenchanted by a newspaper, which most people take for granted. As a result of her loneliness, she retreats into her imagination. The newspaper story that she sees, whichreads, "'Mrs. Ruby Fisher had the misfortune to be shot in the leg by her husband lastweek,'" sets her reverie in motion. As she reads the sentence, one gleans that she isuneducated: she leaves "the long word, 'misfortune,' until the last" (13). Ruby imaginesthat this woman with the same name and she are one. She tends to confuse her dreamwith reality, as Welty shows when Ruby says, "'That's me' . . . very formally" (13). Theerasure of the line between dream and reality becomes a central theme.As in several of Welty's works, in "A Piece of News" she incorporates a mirror concept. In this case, the fire acts as the mirror. As Ruby looks into the fire, "it mighthave been a mirror in the cabin, in which she could look deeper and deeper . . ." (13).She imagines Clyde actually shooting her, not in the leg but in the heart, and killing her.Her life is so lonely and miserable that the romanticized thought of her own death makesher ecstatic.Alfred Appell comments on Welty's use of imagery to support Ruby's reverie. Heargues that the fire and the storm become "an objective correlative that charts the growthof Ruby's daydream as it envelopes the lonely reality of her life" (15). From Ruby'sloneliness comes her desperate need for attention.

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