Social Concerns / Themes
A Summons to Memphis, Taylor's last novel, is an extended study of his principal theme, well represented in his other work: the familial strife that arises in the face of change.
The change in this family is caused by a move that the family makes early in the narrator's life from the old southern town of Nashville to the modern southern city of Memphis. This changes the lives of the narrator's sisters, severely limiting their chances of making good marriages, eventually leaving them unmarried and dissatisfied. The stress that ensues after the move drives the eldest son to enlist, fight in the war, and die. And it compels the narrator to partially alienate himself from the family and move to New York and adopt a non-Southern lifestyle.