Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

The Great Depression
Within two years of the 1929 stock market crash, economic depression was worldwide. In the United...

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Literary Style

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Losing Battles is filled with similes, all of them fresh and inventive, some wildly unexpected. The...

(The entire section is 706 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)

Bailey, Paul, "Gloriously Ordinary," in Times Literary Supplement, June 4, 1982, p. 608.


(The entire section is 238 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Bass, Eben E. “The Languages of Losing Battles.” Studies in American Fiction 21 (Spring, 1993): 67-82. Bass explores the opposing feminine modes of communication which serve the common goal of challenging male authority in Welty’s novel. Bass compares the effectiveness of Julia’s written and bookish modes of communication to Granny Vaughn’s spoken word.

Champion, Laurie, ed. The Critical Response to Eudora Welty’s Fiction. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. In her introduction, Champion presents an overview of the criticism on Welty’s fiction. Five separate essays by different scholars are devoted to various aspects of Losing Battles. Includes a helpful bibliography of works for further reading.

Gray, Richard. “Needing to Talk: Language and Being in Losing Battles.” The Southern Literary Journal 29 (Spring, 1997): 72-86. Gray contends that Welty’s novel is similar in style to Faulkner’s works in that Welty and Faulkner both portray life as a series of dialogue that creates an open-ended chain of discourse with no possibility of finalization. Gray characterizes this style as “folk-speech” and shows that all of Welty’s characters have a need to tell their stories.

Gretlund, Jan Nordby. “Welty’s Losing Battles.” The Explicator 51 (Fall, 1992): 49-50. Gretlund argues that several critics who admire Welty have misinterpreted passages in her works that reflect the dark or evil side of human nature. She uses the example of the instance when 90-year-old Grandma Vaughn invites her 12-year-old grandson into her bed. Gretlund contends that Grandma’s action could have been an innocent mistake.

Kornfeld, Eve. “Reconstructing American Law: The Politics of Narrative and Eudora Welty’s Empathic Vision.” Journal of American Studies 26 (April, 1992): 23-49. Kornfeld examines the contention of some legal scholars that Welty’s novel shows that American law should be reformulated to overcome bias against minorities, women, and the poor. Welty’s book reflects an empathic point of view by having the judge reinterpret the law based on sympathy for a family’s troubles.

Compare and Contrast

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1930s: The United States is in a severe economic depression triggered by a stock market crash. Poverty and unemployment are...

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

A primary theme of the novel is the struggle between individual identity and family identity. Which do you think is more important: a strong...

(The entire section is 227 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)