Where Is the Voice Coming From? by Eudora Welty Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

In “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” plot becomes subordinate to character as an anonymous speaker, the “voice” of the title, reveals his innermost thoughts in a stream-of-consciousness monologue. The action of the story is largely internal, in the mind and memory of this narrator, as he recalls recent conversations with his wife as well as his role in the death of Roland Summers, an African American civil rights leader in the small town of Thermopylae. The story concludes with the only external action in present time as the speaker begins to play his guitar.

The narrator, a white southerner in the early 1960’s who has been pushed beyond his limits by the growing Civil Rights movement, is filled with rage and insecurity as the traditional rules of his society begin to give way. The possibility of murder first occurs to him when he sees Summers’s face once too often on television, calling for equal rights for African Americans. He realizes that he has the power to eliminate that face permanently, even though he must borrow a delivery truck from his brother-in-law to carry out his predawn mission. He hides and waits for the black man’s new white car to approach the lighted garage and paved driveway of his home. Although the narrator has never seen Summers in the flesh, only his picture, he recognizes him instantly in spite of the darkness and shoots him down. Both he and Summers are trapped in the moment as he shoots, but now he can be certain...

(The entire section is 573 words.)