The Golden Apples Summary
by Eudora Welty

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The Golden Apples Summary

The Golden Apples is a short-story collection that takes place in Morgana, Mississippi. It revolves around several middle-class families, such as the Moodys, the MacLains, and the Starks. The story uses mythology and symbolism to convey pervasive sorrow and glimmers of hope within experience and perseverance. The reader follows several characters called "wanderers" who attempt to find the golden apples. For instance, the first story is called "Shower of Gold" and follows Mrs. Rainey, a character prone to gossip.

What holds the stories together is a poem by William Butler Yeats called "The Song of Wandering Aengus," revealing that the golden apples represent beauty and true meaning. The characters attempt to find the apples to bring meaning to their lives and mark the town of Morgana as a magical place. By using this poem, the author conveys that the knowledge gained in pursuit of the apples is more meaningful than the apples themselves.

The story collection concludes with the short story "The Wanderers," where the characters come together and realize the underlying value of their lives through struggle and unity. Further, they realize that the apples will remain beautiful, so long as they stay on the tree.

Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The Golden Apples is a collection of seven short stories, interrelated and held together by their characters, a common setting in Morgana, Mississippi, and their common theme of the wanderer’s search for happiness. The stories, which were initially published separately, cover about forty years in the lives of the inhabitants of Morgana and outline the complete drama of their lives. The list of a dramatis personae on the first page of the book indicates that readers are to consider the work as a unified whole. The book is in some ways Eudora Welty’s attempt to create a regional world such as William Faulkner’s, but her focus is on comfortable members of the upper middle class and such everyday activities as piano recitals, camping trips for the young girls, gossip between neighbors, and funerals. This world is examined from all sides and points of view. Thus the first story, “Shower of Gold,” is narrated by the gossipy Mrs. Rainey, whose matter-of-factness contrasts with the mystery of what she reveals about King MacLain and his influence on the community. “June Recital” is described through the eyes of Loch Morrison, the young boy who sees everything wrong yet peculiarly right, and Cassie, his older sister, who sees correctly but does not share the insights or life force of her brother. “The Whole World Knows,” told through the eyes of Randall MacLain, is a somewhat blurred vision that reveals a certain truth in reenacting what has been observed. Whatever the point of view, Welty gets beneath the veneer of middle-class comfort to the hidden springs and mysteries of her characters.

Beyond the common setting in MacLain County, the stories are held together by William Butler Yeats’s poem, “The Song of the Wandering Aengus,” from which the title of the collection is taken. This poem breaks into Cassie’s mind as she tells her narrative, and in a very real way it provides the key to the meaning of the entire work. The poem is about a search for golden apples that represent beauty, poetry, and ultimate meaning. The search is marked by the pursuit of a vision in which a silver trout becomes a “glimmering girl” before the eyes of Aengus. Welty’s people are also wanderers in search of meaning to transform the commonness of their lives and make the name of the town, Morgana, as magical as the name from which it is derived, Morgan le Fay. Their search reveals the mysterious beauty beneath the surfaces of their lives, which Welty brings out as part of the process of transformation that is typical of most of her work.

The tone of the stories, on the other hand, is rather unlike Welty’s earlier fiction . There is not as much variety of mood here as in her early work but rather a pervasive feeling of solemnity and...

(The entire section is 1,788 words.)