Delta Wedding is a study of the relationships among the individual members of the Fairchild family and between that family and the rest of the world. The setting for the story is Shellmound, the Mississippi plantation that is the home of Battle Fairchild; his wife, Ellen Fairchild; and their eight children, as well as of various female relatives and black servants. Shellmound is not merely a backdrop; it is the center of family life. The sound of Shellmound is the sound of conversation; this is a place where people gather to talk. The conversations at Shellmound may appear to be superficial, examples of the southerners’ need to fill every silence, yet they serve important purposes. They enable family members to explore their own feelings and to understand those of others, to connect living people with those who are dead, and to comprehend the events taking place in the present by recalling similar occasions in the past.
It is therefore not mere provinciality or possessiveness that causes the Fairchilds to consider it a tragedy when one of them moves away from that sustaining influence. They mention the young woman who married a northerner and moved far away from them; obviously, she understood what she had left behind, because she returns to her parents’ home to have her babies.
To its credit, the Fairchild family is willing to change, to open its ranks to those who would once have been considered outsiders. The wedding for which they are gathering is an example of the family’s flexibility, for they will be celebrating the marriage of Battle’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Dabney Fairchild, to the plantation overseer, Troy Flavin, an outsider from the hill country. If the Virginian Ellen Fairchild is still somewhat ill at ease in the family, Troy, who is socially and culturally...
(The entire section is 744 words.)