Keela, the Outcast Indian Maiden Summary

Eudora Welty


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Practically the entire story “Keela, the Outcast Indian Maiden” is presented as a dialogue between Steve, a young man who once was the barker for the sideshow in which Little Lee Roy, a clubfooted black man, was presented as Keela, the Outcast Indian Maiden, and Max, a man who runs a café near Lee Roy’s home and who brings Steve to see him. Occasionally, Lee Roy himself enters into the conversation, but primarily the story focuses on Steve trying to explain to Max why he continued in the barker’s job. Ostensibly, Steve has come to find Lee Roy and give him some money, or something, and thus expiate his sin against the humanity of the clubfooted black man. Once he finds him, however, he takes little note of him at all, directing his attention primarily to Max, ignoring Max’s repeated question about whether this man is the same as Keela. The only thing on Steve’s mind is to tell his story.

Steve has come to find Little Lee Roy, the story soon makes clear, not to make any reparation but, like Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, to implicate someone else, to force Max to understand the meaning of the situation and to make him care. In horrified accents, Steve tells of Keela/Lee Roy biting chickens’ heads off, sucking their blood, and then eating them raw. In his anxious state, Steve says, “I was the one was the cause for it goin’ on an’ on an’ not bein’ found out—such an awful thing. It was me, what I said out front through the megaphone.”

Steve then tells how one man came to the show and exposed the fraud and freed Lee Roy. He insists, however, that he himself did not know the show was a fraud,...

(The entire section is 675 words.)