The Critical Response to Eudora Welty's Fiction

By Laurie Champion | Go to book overview

Main Street in Dixie

Lee E. Cannon

In the small imaginary town of Morgana, Miss. (and one hopes it is), life teems with suppressed desires and frustrations. The mysterious wanderings and appearances of Mr. King MacLain, whose story runs in and out through the narrative, symbolize the search for the golden apples of dreams and happiness, so often an illusion, perhaps the Fata Morgana. Many other inhabitants are also under this spell. With deft artistry Miss Welty has probed into the lives of these people and has woven a colorful tapestry of their inner and other experiences, for in Morgana it is difficult to distinguish between reality and actuality, and at times the dead alone seem living and the living alone seem dead, while over all seems to hang an aura of decadence -- a decadence which is a kind of blight in the work of a number of our contemporary southern writers.

Out of this collection of short stories emerges gradually a feeling of design, a realization that the various units blend symmetrically into a pattern that seeks to interpret the life and atmosphere of a small community. Thus we have another in the ever growing group of novels portraying the village in American literature. For, in a Pickwickian sense, this is a novel.

In the realm of actuality there are little lifelike sketches of the doings, superstitions, talk and appearance of dwellers in small southern towns, cleverly put down and easily recognizable. The descriptions of the June recital of the music class, the summer camp for orphans and, as a climax, the funeral of Mrs. Rainey communicate an air of kindly humor and gentle disillusionment and throw light on folk manners and morals.

The inner, real life is revealed through use of the stream of consciousness, through the inferences of eavesdroppers, frequently children, and sometimes through the reproduction of the inner life itself. The actions of grownups

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