Eudora Welty: Two Pictures at Once in Her Frame

By Barbara Harrell Carson | Go to book overview

II
Inside the Labyrinth: The Eye of the Story

While One Writer's Beginnings offers evidence of how Welty views her own life in terms of polarity, The Eye of the Story ( 1978) shows us that the same vision operates when Welty looks outward. Welty repeatedly finds in the fiction of authors she admires the holistic themes that resound in her own works. And when she turns to explanations of her theories of writing, she reveals that the idea of the coexistence of opposites in art underpins her aesthetics. At least half of the essays in The Eye of the Story, collected from a period of forty-two years, contain some reference to this motif.

Together, these essays offer Welty's clearest and most explicit statements about this vision of reality, its relevance to her theory of art, its significance in the development of the self, and its potential role in human relationships. Of course, it is not Welty's purpose, in any of these essays, to present a philosophy of non-dualism. Sometimes, indeed, the idea appears in just an image, or in a sentence or two, or in a couple of paragraphs. But almost always it appears, just below the surface of the essays, a leitmotif supporting the essays' major themes.

The earliest essay in the collection, "Ida M'Toy" (first published in 1942), suggests that from the beginning of her career the theme of the harmony of opposites informed Welty's view of life and of art. "Ida M'Toy" is the description of "an old Negro woman, for a long time a midwife in my Mississippi town and for another long time a dealer in secondhand clothes in the same place." 1 Although this is the only essay in the whole collection focused on a person who is not a writer, Ida M'Toy herself becomes one of Welty's earliest symbols of the artist. The metaphors Welty attaches to the midwife-merchant leave little

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Eudora Welty: Two Pictures at Once in Her Frame
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction viii
  • Notes xxv
  • I- Confluence- One Writer''s Beginnings 1
  • Notes 12
  • II- Inside the Labyrinth- The Eye of the Story 13
  • Notes 27
  • III- The Tangled Bank- Stories of Initiation 29
  • Notes 48
  • IV- "The Way Home through the Wilderness"- The Robber Bridegroom 51
  • Notes 69
  • V- A Truer Thing Than Thought- Delta Wedding 72
  • Notes 97
  • VI- In the Heart of Clay- The Ponder Heart 100
  • Notes 115
  • VII- The Tie That Binds- Losing Battles 117
  • Notes 133
  • VIII- Learning to See Bridges- The Optimist''s Daughter 135
  • Afterward 156
  • Notes 157
  • Works Cited 158
  • Index 170
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