Style and Technique
Perhaps the central characteristic of Welty’s style in this story is its evocative quality. In outline, the story is simple and realistic, the account of a marital misunderstanding that sends the young husband off on a compensatory masculine adventure. However, in the telling, Welty evokes a deeper, even more universal layer of meaning. By means of suggestive images and carefully constructed narrative commentary, Welty points to and suggests the meanings of the ritual aspects of the whole expedition. For example, as William Wallace and Virgil plan to gather the men, William Wallace catches a rabbit. He demonstrates how he can “freeze” the animal, making it stand for a moment under his hand. Welty makes it clear that in exercising a kind of hypnotic control over it, he is expressing his wish to control Hazel in this way. Virgil’s reaction points at the paradox of William Wallace’s desire, setting up the meanings that will emerge from the ritual elements of the quest: “Anybody can freeze a rabbit, that wants to . . . as you out catching cottontails, or as you out catching your wife?” To control Hazel would be to reduce her to a relatively uninteresting animal.
One of the evocative images is William Wallace’s phallic fish dance. The men have finished their search without finding Hazel’s body. After eating and napping on a sandbar, William Wallace feels exuberant. Doc attributes this joy to the pleasure of the chase: “The excursion is the...
(The entire section is 430 words.)