Postmodern Approaches to the Short Story

By Farhat Iftekharrudin; Joseph Boyden et al. | Go to book overview

1
The Challenge of [June Recital]:
Generic Considerations in the Structure of The
Golden Apples

Donna Jarrell

A metronome was an infernal machine, Cassie's mother said when Cassie
told on Virgie. 'Mercy, you have to keep moving, with that infernal ma-
chine. I want a song to dip' (40–41).

The story [June Recital,] second of seven in Eudora Welty's 1949 work, The Golden Apples (18–85), is difficult to categorize generically. Its place in the collection of linked short stories has posed many questions of interpretation since its first appearance in Harper's in 1947. [June Recital] consumes nearly onethird of the 244–page volume and is nearly thirty pages longer than [The Wanderers,] its closest challenge. It is not simply proportion or length that creates problems in responses to [June Recital.] Approximately midway, it digresses from a story about Loch and Cassie Morrison into an expansive history of Cassie's spinster piano teacher, Miss Eckhart, and her relationship with her student, Virgie Rainey. As Suzanne Hunter Brown discusses in [Discourse Analysis and the Short Story] (217–248), the [reader can … shift frames] to accommodate such a change in a story's direction (220). In the instance of [June Recital,] however, we are left with the challenge of reconciling what Hunter Brown would call [incompatibilities] in [selected frame[s]] (223).

A closer examination of [June Recital] will demonstrate that Welty has essentially embedded a [novel-like] story about Miss Eckhart within a [short story] about Cassie Morrison. I contend that Cassie's epiphany, her initiation, could be effected without this elaborate development of Miss Eckhart, found primarily from pages 42–67. Here, the story deviates from its established generic frame and dips into the past. Using Cassie as narrator, it develops Miss Eckhart into what Frank O'Connor has described in his book The Lonely Voice

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