Eudora Welty has created in Shellmound, the home of the Fairchild family in Delta Wedding, a world set apart from the rest of southern plantation society of the 1920’s. Shellmound is a haven, isolated from the mainstream of southern life and unaffected by extremes of grief and suffering: There is no racial tension, no poverty, no war or natural catastrophe, no sense of alienation and instability generated by contact with modern urban society, and no severe moral deficiencies in the characters that would preclude natural human happiness. The Fairchild estate is thus the perfect stage upon which to play out a drama about the growth of every type of love, from romantic to filial to platonic.
The main focus of the book, therefore, is on the nature of the numerous members of the Fairchild clan and on their relationships. Welty shows how the men are different from the women, how the “insiders” are different from those who have married into the family, how each person relates to the others, and how each person grows individually and privately. In order to explore these various aspects, the author utilizes different narrative voices, thus enabling the reader to view the characters from different perspectives. Aunt Tempe, for example, provides the older generation’s point of view; she believes that Delta women have inherited traits that cannot be learned by outsiders, traits that enable them subtly to control their men and the plantations. At the...
(The entire section is 436 words.)