Eudora Welty American Literature Analysis

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 5589

In The Eye of the Story, there is an essay called “Reality in Chekhov’s Stories,” which explains as much about Eudora Welty as it does about Anton Chekhov. Welty comments that one of Chekhov’s most important contributions to fiction was his redefining of reality. Before Chekhov, there was one viewpoint in fiction, directly or obliquely the author’s; after Chekhov, the writer felt free and even compelled to present various viewpoints as versions of reality. This approach necessitates a determined detachment on the part of the fiction writer. As Welty frequently explained, she does not consciously manipulate her characters; instead, she creates them and lets them speak for themselves. As a result, her short stories and novels often have the quality of a stage play.

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In “A Visit of Charity,” for example, Welty begins with a brief mention of the time of day; she proceeds to describe the appearance of a young girl and to give the directions for her coming onstage—in this case, into the Old Ladies’ Home. Although the point of view of this story is that of fourteen-year-old Marian, who notices everything, even the smell of the room that she has chosen to enter, the minute the two old women begin to talk, there are two additional versions of reality. The old women do not agree about anything. One says that another girl has visited them, and the other says she did not; one says that her roommate is sick, and the roommate denies it; one begins to speak of her school days, and the other interrupts with a tirade to the effect that the first speaker had no life whatsoever before she came to the home to torture her roommate.

With all the controversy going on, it is no wonder that the girl herself feels as if she is in a dream; in other words, her own view of reality becomes shaky. In the final scene, after escaping from the Old Ladies’ Home, Marian bites into an apple. The implication is clear: She is returning to the single and simple reality of her own appetite.

Welty’s dramatic structure, then, is her way of stressing a major theme: that each character is living in a unique world. Furthermore, although Marian shuts out the past and the future by focusing on her apple, most characters live in memory and in anticipation as well as in observation of the present. In One Writer’s Beginnings, Welty explains her idea of the basic pattern of life. Everyone is involved, she says, in a continual process, moving from memories of the past to discoveries about the present and then again back to memories. There are, however, occasions when the memories and discoveries converge in a single moment, annihilating the conventional divisions between past and present, the living and the dead. Welty calls these times “confluences.”

In Welty’s fiction, the confluences are usually both healing and strengthening, at least for the characters who pay attention to them, such as the naturalist James Audubon in “A Still Moment” and Phoebe in “Asphodel,” who finds in the retelling of an old love story, an appearance of a naked hermit, and an attack by hungry goats the occasion for joy. The theme of confluence is reflected in the final sentence of the story, as Phoebe’s reaction is described:She seemed to be still in a tender dream and an unconscious celebration—as though the picnic were not already set rudely in the past, but were the enduring and intoxicating present. still the phenomenon. the golden day.

Even though Welty emphasizes the uniqueness of each individual’s perception, she does not therefore assume that there can be no connections between people. Indeed, most of her stories and all of her novels stress the need for acceptance, for tolerance, for a sustaining community. Welty often chooses a ceremonial gathering as the setting for a story or a novel. The title of Delta Wedding suggests that occasion; Losing Battles takes place at a birthday celebration; The Optimist’s Daughter involves a deathbed vigil and a funeral. Even the student recital in the short story titled “June Recital” and the weekly meeting in the beauty shop described in “Petrified Man” are times when human beings come together to deal with their uncertainties and to resolve their conflicts.

As a writer, Welty was conscious of the joys of solitude; however, as a human being, she believed that there was also strength in community. The revelation that comes too late to the protagonist of “Death of a Traveling Salesman” is that his life was a waste because he never chose to become involved with other people. Although Welty never minimizes the difficulties that arise from being subject to the rules and customs of any group, she chooses to have her characters work out their own independence without rejecting their ancestors, their extended families, their neighbors, and their communities.

Delta Wedding

First published: 1946

Type of work: Novel

A young girl, visiting relatives who are preparing for a wedding on their Mississippi plantation, finds her own identity as part of the family.

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 inferior to the Fairchilds, should feel totally rejected. However, he does not. The Fairchilds have come to appreciate his virtues, his diligence, his love of the land, and his understanding of Dabney’s need to remain near her roots.

In contrast, Robbie Reid Fairchild is jealous of the family into which she has married. Early in the novel, Robbie’s husband, George Fairchild, who is Battle’s brother, arrives from Memphis with a fine little filly for Dabney’s wedding present but without his wife. Robbie has left George. The cause of the breach was an action that the family sees as heroism but that Robbie sees as George’s desertion of her.

Two weeks before, the family had gone fishing. As they crossed a railroad trestle on the way back, George’s mentally handicapped niece, Maureen, got her foot caught. Even though a train was coming, George stayed with her, working to free her. The train stopped in time; however, Robbie interpreted the incident as George’s choosing his family instead of his wife, and therefore she has left him. If one movement of the novel is toward the family’s complete acceptance of Troy, another is toward Robbie’s acceptance of her husband and of his needs for his family. Halfway through the book, Robbie arrives, still furious, but by the end of the novel, she has realized that George’s love for her is not diminished by his sense of duty toward the Fairchilds, and she agrees to move back home with George.

Most of the events in Delta Wedding are reflected through the eyes of another outsider, nine-year-old Laura McRaven, who has come from Jackson to visit the relatives of her dead mother. Laura is fascinated by Shellmound—the constant motion, the talk, the exclamations, the laughter, the embraces. She desperately needs the security that Shellmound offers her, desperately needs to replace the love of her dead mother with the love of her mother’s family. On the other hand, she notices that Shellmound can be restrictive; it is a difficult place to read, she observes, and is in some ways a difficult place to find oneself. Laura manages to achieve a balance between her conflicting needs. When the assigned flower girl gets chicken pox, Laura takes her place, thus becoming part of the wedding and, she believes, of the family. George, whom she adores, assures her that she is truly a Fairchild. When Laura returns to Jackson, she can take with her all that is best at Shellmound. She will always be a part of it, yet she will always have her own secrets and her own identity.

Losing Battles

First published: 1970

Type of work: Novel

A clan gathers to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of a matriarch and to avenge the imprisonment of one of its finest young men.

Losing Battles is a book-length illustration of Welty’s theory of confluence. When the Beechams, the Renfros, and the Vaughns gather to celebrate Granny Vaughn’s ninetieth birthday, they all talk. In the southern social tradition, this talk involves a great deal of storytelling and reminiscence. In this way, people long dead appear among the living, and past events are revived to determine present actions.

As the title implies, there are many conflicts in the novel. Many involve an outsider’s attempt to deal with a highly structured society—in this case, the large, extended family present at the reunion. Aunt Cleo Webster is one of the characters who has a problem with the family into which she has recently married. Early in the novel, it is clear that her questions show her ignorance of the family heritage and, worse, her slightly different perspective. Because she is from southern Mississippi and the reunion takes place in the hill country of northern Mississippi, there is a geographical explanation; however, when the family discovers that she was previously married to a member of the Stovall clan, the hereditary enemies of the Beechams and the Renfros, Aunt Cleo becomes, to a degree, the object of suspicion. Fortunately, by the end of the novel, Aunt Cleo has been taught much about family history and, by learning the correct responses in the never-ending conversations, has become a part of the family.

Another outsider is Gloria Renfro, who is waiting for the return of her husband, Jack Renfro, from the penitentiary, where he had been sent because of an altercation involving a Stovall snatching a family ring from Jack’s young sister. Because Jack is the family hero and Granny’s favorite, after his return Gloria has difficulty getting him alone. The family demands that he avenge himself on the judge who sent him to the penitentiary. Desperately, Gloria plays every card she holds in order to keep Jack from getting in trouble and being sent away again. She tries to focus his attention on their baby, on her own physical charms, and on their future life together.

However, the family does not want to let go of the past. They would rather have another mythic character to tell stories about than have a real Jack Renfro, happy at home. It is chance, Gloria, and the Renfro sense of honor that unite to keep Jack at home. When Judge Moody, who had sentenced Jack, sacrifices his wife’s beloved car in order to keep from hitting the baby and Gloria, Jack cannot harm him; instead, he invites him and his wife to the reunion.

During the celebration, Gloria undergoes a kind of initiation into Jack’s family. At one point, several of the women hold her down and force watermelon into her mouth; at another, they criticize her wedding dress, which she has worn to welcome back her husband, and finally cut it up because they say it has far too much material in it. For a time, Gloria feels that Jack must choose between his family and her; eventually, however, she realizes that the love between them is so strong that she can afford to share him with his family.

These main plot lines indicate the importance of the theme of reconciliation in Losing Battles. In all these cases, individuals become accepted by a society that had initially viewed them as outsiders. Yet there is another character in the novel who has chosen to remain an outsider—Miss Julia Mortimer, the influential schoolteacher, who has just died. Although she appears at the reunion entirely through anecdote, nonetheless she is a very real presence. Early in the novel, Gloria has to choose whether to go to the funeral of Miss Julia, her friend and mentor, or to stay and wait for Jack. She chooses Jack, as she had chosen him when she left teaching to marry him. In her battle for Gloria, Miss Julia loses, as she had lost most of the battles that she had waged against ignorance. At the end of her life, she was still fighting, but she had come to the conclusion that if her students did learn anything, it would be more or less a miracle rather than anything she had consciously done.

Despite its length, its structural complexity, and the innumerable characters, living and dead, that crowd its pages, Losing Battles is considered one of Welty’s most interesting novels. Superficially, it appears to be little more than a record of conversations, yet it is a superb exploration of the subjects and themes that dominate Welty’s works.

The Optimist’s Daughter

First published: 1972

Type of work: Novel

A young woman must face the death of her beloved father and her conflicts with his vulgar, greedy second wife.

The Optimist’s Daughter deals with family relationships, as do the earlier novels Delta Wedding and Losing Battles and many of Welty’s short stories. The Optimist’s Daughter, however, focuses on a family of only three people: Laurel McKelva Hand, a widow, the protagonist; her ill father, Judge Clinton McKelva; and his second wife, Fay Chisom McKelva, who is even younger than Laurel. It is not the difference between generations that causes conflict in this novel, however; as in “Moon Lake” and “A Memory,” it is the difference in attitude and in conduct between two social classes, a difference that cannot easily be reconciled.

The old, educated southern aristocracy, connected by common memories and by generations of intermarriage and marked by the restraint that they show in times of crisis, is represented by Judge McKelva, his dead wife Becky McKelva, and their daughter, Laurel. Fay comes from a lower social level, one that people such as the McKelvas generally view with embarrassment and distaste. People of Fay’s class, whatever their income, can be counted on to be loud, aggressive, and insensitive to social nuances.

Although it would seem that the hospital room in New Orleans where the story begins would be a neutral ground in the class conflict, it is not. The Judge’s doctor is at ease with the Judge and Laurel; a native of Mount Salus, Mississippi, where the McKelvas live, he behaves as the Judge and Laurel do—they become more and more controlled as the Judge’s health declines. It is not surprising that the doctor is appalled by Fay’s behavior. Evidently she is convinced that if she pouts and complains enough about how bored she is, the Judge will rise from his bed and take her around New Orleans. Laurel, remembering her own refined, dead mother, loathes Fay. The family of the Judge’s roommate, however, whose background is the same as Fay’s, understand that her temper tantrums are simply the appropriate way for people of her class to respond to stress. It is to these people that Fay turns for comfort when the Judge dies.

In Mount Salus, as in New Orleans, there are two distinct groups of people. The friends of the McKelvas have one code; Fay’s relatives, who come to attend the funeral, have another. From the vantage point of Laurel, with whom Welty clearly sympathizes, Fay is an intruder who intends to take the Judge’s effects and, more important, to destroy the memories that are still present for Laurel in her childhood home.

For Laurel, the turning point of the story comes after the funeral, when Fay tries to appropriate a breadboard that Laurel’s dead husband had made for her mother. In a moment of fury, Laurel very nearly hits Fay over the head with the breadboard; however, Laurel realizes that such an action would be typical of Fay, not of the McKelvas. She also realizes that whatever material things Fay may claim, she cannot take either Laurel’s sense of the family past or her memories of her husband, her mother, and her father.

At the end of the story, although she may not realize it, Fay has been defeated. She will always be an outsider in the society that she had hoped to enter by marrying the Judge. However much she mocks and attacks the aristocrats, she has a deep sense of inferiority when she is around them, based, Laurel sees, on Fay’s very real defects, not simply on Laurel’s distaste for her. Fay does not have enough imagination to understand a person of intelligence and of sensitivity. Therefore, she can neither love nor defeat such a person.

The Optimist’s Daughter is different from Welty’s other novels in that Fay comes close to being a real villain, rather than simply a person whose perceptions are different from those of others. Unlike the other novels, it ends without a reconciliation between characters in conflict, without the family’s incorporating unlike people into their society. Instead, there is a personal victory for Laurel. After her experience of confluence, her assurance of the presence of the dead she mourns, she knows that Fay and her like can never defeat her.

“A Memory”

First published: 1937 (collected in The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, 1980)

Type of work: Short story

A young girl at the beach finds her proper, orderly world threatened by the antics of a vulgar family.

In “A Memory,” her second story to be published, Welty shows how difficult life with others can be. As in her earlier story, “Death of a Traveling Salesman,” she emphasizes the appeal of human contact. In both stories, the family that the solitary protagonist encounters is a very ordinary one. In “Death of a Traveling Salesman,” the salesman perceived a natural mannerliness in the young couple who offered him their hospitality. In “A Memory,” however, the girl who is telling the story perceives only ugliness in the people who come to disturb her daydreams.

One reason for her reaction, she admits, is the fact that she is suffering from first love, cherishing the memory of an accidental touch by a boy whom she does not even know. The result of this condition, she says, is that she lives a life of heightened observation at the same time that she is creating a world of dreams. This is essentially the pattern Welty later described in One Writer’s Beginnings; certainly the symptoms are those of the creative artist. What this protagonist wishes to do, however, is to select only the most beautiful memories and observations for her private world. When the boy she loves gets a nosebleed at school, she faints. Fearing another shock, she takes care not to find out where he lives or who his parents are. The world that she has created will not admit the world that, in the course of human life, she is take bound to encounter.

It is this rejection of the whole of life that makes the protagonist’s encounter with the vulgar family such a shock to her. The strangers on the beach do not even speak to her, but she is offended by their ugliness, their noisiness, even their energy. When they leave, she is overcome by pity, not for them but for the little pavilion that had to endure them. At the end of the story, she recognizes how difficult it is to fit anything distasteful into an ideal world that one has invented and in which one wishes to dwell.

“Petrified Man”

First published: 1939 (collected in Selected Stories of Eudora Welty, 1954)

Type of work: Short story

A conversation between a beautician and her customer reveals insecurities that they do not mean to admit.

The title “Petrified Man” refers to one of the oddities in a traveling freak show that has stopped off in a small southern town. However, the title character never appears in person, nor is he even the main topic in the conversation between Leota, a beautician, and her customer, Mrs. Fletcher. The story takes place in a beauty shop, where Leota is giving Mrs. Fletcher a shampoo and set. During the hour that it takes to complete the process, the two women engage in what appears to be polite conversation. The external action in “Petrified Man” is minimal; the real drama takes place in the dialogue.

Mrs. Fletcher strikes the first blow by suggesting that the permanent Leota gave her on a previous visit may have made her hair fall out. Leota replies that the cause is more likely to be Mrs. Fletcher’s being pregnant. Upon finding out that people are gossiping about her, Mrs. Fletcher becomes furious. From that time on, she is defensive about her own life and nasty about everyone whom Leota likes. Though she has never seen any of them, she finds fault with Leota’s new friend Mrs. Pike, with Mr. Pike, with a fortune-teller whom Leota has found, and even with the petrified man. Mrs. Fletcher is especially irritated by Billy Boy, Mrs. Pike’s rambunctious three-year-old son, who is running loose in the beauty shop.

However, after Leota completes her story, Mrs. Fletcher feels better. It seems that Mrs. Pike recognized the rapist pictured in one of Leota’s magazines as the petrified man and got a $500 reward for turning him in. Mrs. Pike’s good fortune is more than Leota can stand, and this time when little Billy misbehaves, she paddles him with a hairbrush.

“Petrified Man” differs from many of Welty’s other works in that it does not end with a reconciliation. Although Mrs. Fletcher is no longer angry with Leota, now Leota loathes the Pikes. Little Billy’s final wisecrack reinforces what Leota now knows: that her life has been one long disappointment.

“A Worn Path”

First published: 1941 (collected in Selected Stories of Eudora Welty, 1954)

Type of work: Short story

An elderly African American woman walks to town in order to get her grandson the medicine that he needs.

“A Worn Path” is a simple story about a difficult journey. The protagonist, Phoenix Jackson, is an elderly African American woman who lives in the country. On a cold December day, she is walking to town along the path that she always takes. Along the way, she encounters various obstacles: thorny bushes, a creek, a barbed-wire fence, a swamp. Then she waves her cane to drive away a dog, loses her balance, and falls. Fortunately, a white man happens along and helps her up. Without knowing it, he drops a nickel, and she pockets it, though she feels guilty about stealing.

After arriving in town, Phoenix gets a lady to lace up her shoe, explaining that she must be properly dressed to go into a big building. Once in the doctor’s office, she has to be reminded that she has come to get medicine for her grandson, who swallowed lye several years before. The receptionist offers her some pennies, and Phoenix hints that five of them would be a nickel. With her two nickels, Phoenix will buy her grandson a little paper windmill. The story ends with her making her way laboriously back down the stairs.

In “A Worn Path,” the author utilizes the conventions of the heroic journey to describe the adventures of a woman who is unaware of her own heroism. The simple style that Welty uses for her account of Phoenix Jackson’s odyssey makes the story even more effective and poignant.

“Why I Live at the P.O.”

First published: 1941 (collected in Selected Stories of Eudora Welty, 1954)

Type of work: Short story

The narrator explains why she left the family home and moved into the back of the post office where she works.

“Why I Live at the P.O.” is a monologue in which the narrator, whom the other characters call “Sister,” explains how she came to leave the family home in China Grove, Mississippi. In the process, she reveals her own character and a good many family secrets.

According to Sister, her life with her grandfather, her Uncle Rondo, and her mother had been harmonious until the Fourth of July holiday, when her younger sister, Stella-Rondo, left her husband and came home, bringing with her a two-year-old child named Shirley-T, who was supposedly adopted. Sister immediately made it clear that she did not believe that story. Stella-Rondo avenged herself that night by persuading their grandfather, “Papa-Daddy,” that Sister wanted him to cut off his beard. When Uncle Rondo got drunk and wrapped himself in Stella-Rondo’s kimono, Sister insists that she came to his defense. She also sees herself as the heroine of a confrontation with her mother. After Sister insisted that Stella-Rondo had given birth to Shirley-T and then mentioned a disgraced female relative, Mama slapped her. Sister lost her last ally when Stella-Rondo persuaded Uncle Rondo that Sister had made fun of him for wearing the kimono.

Defeated, Sister collected everything that she could possibly claim and moved to the post office. She comforts herself with the the knowledge that as long as her family members refuse to enter the post office, they will not get their mail.

“Why I Live at the P.O.” is funny because all the characters in the story, including the narrator, use warped logic to justify their irrational behavior. Sister’s down-to-earth language in describing her family is another source of humor, and the fact that Sister has her own agenda makes her comments even more amusing. It is hardly surprising that “Why I Live at the P.O.” has been called a comic masterpiece.

“The Wide Net”

First published: 1942 (collected in Selected Stories of Eudora Welty, 1954)

Type of work: Short story

A young husband spends a long day looking for his pregnant wife, who supposedly had run away to drown herself.

“The Wide Net” is a story about the conflict between the needs of the individual and the claims of the community. Young, pregnant Hazel Jamieson feels that the primary allegiance of her husband, William Wallace Jamieson, should be to her. When he stays out all night drinking with his friends, Hazel interprets his action as a rejection of her and of their marriage. She decides to take action.

When he arrives home, William Wallace finds a note from Hazel indicating that she has gone to drown herself. He is shocked. All he can think of is to turn once again to his friends, to the very people who got him into difficulty in the first place. Because they are used to the unfathomable ways of women, they have a remedy for every kind of trouble that women can cause men, even the threat of suicide. Although they cannot prevent Hazel from killing herself, the men can provide the necessary procedure for recovering the body: They must gather by the river and drag it with a wide net until Hazel is found.

At first, the mood is suitably gloomy; however, as the day progresses, the atmosphere becomes festive. Other people join them. With the net, they bring up a baby alligator and an eel. They swim. They feast. At times, even William Wallace forgets the occasion of the gathering in the general excitement.

At the end of the day, the gathering disperses, and William Wallace must go home. He has cut his foot, and he needs someone to take care of it for him. When Hazel comes out of hiding, the two are reconciled. Even though she pretends submission, what Hazel now knows is that she can always find a way to throw William Wallace off balance. The day he has spent searching for her is proof of his love.

What she does not realize is that the strength of the male community was demonstrated when he turned to his friends for help, and that even before she came forward to relieve his apprehensions, William Wallace had undergone a healing ceremony in the company of those friends. There need not be a conflict, however; as long as William Wallace comes home early enough to convince Hazel that he loves her, she will not object to the rituals which involve his male friends. The story is resolved in Welty’s usual pattern: Her characters settle their differences without withdrawing from the community which, though flawed, is needed to sustain its members.

“Moon Lake”

First published: 1949 (collected in The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, 1980)

Type of work: Short story

During a week at summer camp, upper-class girls try to understand what it would be like to be people other than themselves.

“Moon Lake” illustrates how complex the relationships within a group can be and how subtly the distinctions between insider and outsider can be drawn. The story begins by pointing out that the girls at summer camp on Moon Lake are very much aware of lifeguard Loch Morrison’s deliberate dissociation from them. Although Loch must work as their lifeguard, he does not intend to become a member of their group. The group of girls is split into two segments: the regular, paying campers from Morgana, Mississippi, three miles away, and the charity campers, who are orphans from the county home. The two groups dress differently and behave differently. The Morgana girls swim confidently, while the orphans, who cannot swim, simply stand nervously in the water until they are allowed to come out.

As the story progresses, Welty makes it clear that different people have different perceptions of social acceptance. For example, from Loch’s lonely eminence as the only male in camp, all the girls are beyond the pale; he is secure in his society of one. To the leaders of the Morgana group, Nina Carmichael and Jinny Love Stark, it is the orphans who are outsiders. The Morgana girls automatically stick out their tongues at the orphans, only occasionally shifting from contempt into condescending pity. Easter, however, the leader of the orphans, scorns the soft girls from town, who do not even own jackknives, must less know how to throw them.

One example of the difference in viewpoint is the lengthy discussion among Nina, Jinny Love, and Easter about their names. Because no one around Morgana is named Easter, Jinny says, Easter’s name is not a real name. Troubled, Nina tries to convince Easter that her name is merely misspelled; if it is in fact Esther, she says, it could be a real name, because there are other people around Morgana who are named Esther. Nevertheless, Easter will not be renamed. While the girls from Morgana derive their senses of identity from their senses of family and community, Easter is proud of being her own creation. She has no father, and her mother has abandoned her. She was free to name herself, and now she is free to choose her own future, in a way that Nina and Jinny Love cannot be. If Easter goes off to become a singer, as she plans, no one will argue with her.

The girls from Morgana are always alert for outward signs of social deficiency, such as the dirt ring at the back of Easter’s neck and the mispronounced words of the Yankee counselor, Mrs. Gruenwald. They accept the fact that Loch is different; after all, he is a boy. When, at the end of the story, they see him silhouetted in his tent, stark naked, they speculate as to whether he has been beating his chest, Tarzan-like. Nina is fascinated enough by these outsiders to wish that she could slip into their skins, if only briefly, in order to know how they really feel. One night in the tent, Nina touches Easter’s hand. Again, when Easter is unconscious, Nina comes so close to her that she faints. Ironically, it is the outsiders Loch and Easter who are symbolically united when he resuscitates her, while Nina and Jinny Love once more become simply Morgana girls.

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