A Visit of Charity

by Eudora Welty
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What does it mean that Marian "could not see them very clearly" in "A Visit of Charity"?

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Marian is paying a visit to the old folks' home to get three points towards her next Campfire Girl badge. That's the only reason why she's doing it; she doesn't actually want to help anyone. Visiting any old lady will do—it's all about the points. So when Marian drops by...

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Marian is paying a visit to the old folks' home to get three points towards her next Campfire Girl badge. That's the only reason why she's doing it; she doesn't actually want to help anyone. Visiting any old lady will do—it's all about the points. So when Marian drops by to the old folks' home, a nurse shows her into a room that, like all rooms in the home, has two residents.

When Marian steps into the room, she notices that it's incredibly small. In fact, it's positively tiny, crammed with way too much furniture. And the smell is of general wetness.

Marian is vaguely aware of the two old women in the room. One sits in her bed, not moving; the other welcomes her by the door. But it's difficult for Marian to see anything, as it's so unbelievably dark. The window shade is down, and now that the door is shut behind Marian, there's virtually no light in the room to speak of. She thinks that it's like "being caught in a robbers' cave, just before one was murdered."

The literal darkness of the room will soon be matched by the metaphorical darkness provided by an unwelcome glimpse into the lives of the old and infirm.

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