Eudora Welty: Two Pictures at Once in Her Frame

By Barbara Harrell Carson | Go to book overview

V
A Truer Thing than Thought: Delta Wedding

"You sure don't know much";" . . . you don't know anything"; "I don't know"; "Didn't you know . . .?"; "Nobody knew!";" . . . she could not know"; "She wondered if she would ever know. . . . What could she know now?" Such taunts, conversational tags, confessions, and questions jump repeatedly from the pages of Delta Wedding ( 1946). 1 A kind of high point for this pattern is reached near the middle of the novel when Aunt Tempe and Ellen Fairchild accumulate eleven know's in a little over a page of conversation (pp. 106-7). Delta Wedding is, in fact, a novel in which almost everyone is concerned in one way or another with questions of knowing: what kind of knowing is most humanly fulfilling? how can this knowing be achieved--or avoided (for its attainment, like all things in Welty's world, is double-edged)? what barriers interfere with such knowing? what is a person like who truly knows? how does that person affect others?

While both the initiation stories and The Robber Bridegroom were also concerned with the truth to which the enlightened consciousness comes, none of those showed the initiated self reintegrated into daily life. (Jamie and Rosamond's life in New Orleans in The Robber Bridegroom belongs too much to the fairy tale world to have much to do with living as we experience it.) Delta Wedding, on the other hand, for all of its concern with the privileged planter class, is anchored very much in reality, teaming with children and servants, relatives and friends, with curtains that must be washed and lamps that can be broken, with guns and ice picks that can really do injury. Against this background, Welty explores how the holistic insights belonging to initiates can survive the demands of routine, dualistic life.

-72-

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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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