In One Writer's Beginnings, how does author Eudora Welty foreshadow her eventual epiphany and writing style?

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eabeytia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One Writer's Beginnings, by Eudora Welty, is her Pulitzer Prize–winning collection of autobiographical essays based on three lectures she gave at Harvard University on "Listening," "Learning to See," and "Finding a Voice." In these essays--especially in "Listening"--Eudora Welty explains how in her youth listening and eavesdropping would later become essential to her as a writer, helping her to understand the cadence of words and how they worked together to shape sentences and lines. She recounts how she could hear her father shaving, her mother cooking, and them both whistling a shared tune. Moments like this would later influence how she incorporated sounds and tender moments into her own short stories.

Additionally, Welty's mother would constantly read to her, even while cooking, which would integrate itself so much into the younger Welty that she would later hear her mother's voice when she would read silently to herself. Welty also mentions how this reading voice influences her sentences so that they have a particular rhythm that mirrors the reading voice, and how constantly being surrounded by books and reading gave her such a fascination and love for reading and writing.

Additionally, she used her ability to listen in order to inspire her writing, finding stories, inspiration for stories, dialogue, and characters by simply listening to the world around her. By listening and eavesdropping as a young girl, she was able to cultivate that into a talent for storytelling and writing later on in life.

rdb919 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Eudora Welty's memoir, One Writer's Beginnings, she has a chapter entitled "Listening." She has not written a story called "Eavesdropping," to my knowledge. However, I know that listening and eavesdropping have been very important to Welty as a person and a writer. In her memoir, she describes all of the things she listened to, from outside noises to other people's conversations. A quiet child, she preferred to listen than talk. As she grew older and became a writer, she learned--and it was an epiphany of sorts--that by listening or eavesdropping, she could find inspiration and material for her stories. Not only did she take information and snippets of dialogue from those around her, she also included many characters and narrators in her stories who were observers. So by eavesdropping, Welty gained inspiration for her writing and created characters who, much like herself, were observers and listeners. 

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