“…God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers” (Romans 1:28-29) In Petrified Man, Eudra Welty writes s great example of mankind being given over to a debased mind. Welty’s story centers on two women, Leota the gossiping beautician and Mrs. Fletcher Leota’s vain customer, talking as hair is being made beautiful; however, the words which flow from their mouths have no semblance of beauty. Welty’s main characters retain not one redeeming quality.
Welty uses a beauty shop as an ironic backdrop for the casting of bile and venom. Leota sets herself to the task of transforming, Mrs. Fletcher into hair art, all the while speaking from a dark heart. The beautician plies her trade not thinking of the hideousness gushing from her lips. Leota begins with a lie by telling Mrs. Fletcher “one of Thelma’s girls” had revealed her impending nativity. Soon after Leota acknowledges her deceit, she faines innocent in the acquisition of the knowledge Leota’s malaise is quick to turn on even those who she claims as friends. Mrs. Pike begins this story as a new friend with whom Leota has shared a Jax Beer. The advertising slogan for Jax Beer is “The Drink of Friendship”. The beer symbolizes a bond, which has formed; yet, friendship is not safe in the shadow of the wickedness and envy. Welty presents the fickle nature of that Green Monster of envy. Despite Leota’s declaration of friendship with Mrs. Pike, Leota’s spews forth putridity. This putridity leaves a stench about this shrine of feminine (beauty).
Mrs. Fletcher fairs in better under Welty’s pen. Welty writes Mrs. Fletcher, as the picture of vanity run amuck and a matriarchal superior in her marriage, perching in Leota’s chair; she is having her appearance fitted with the semblance less painful on the eye. The most magnificent gift providence can bestow upon woman kind grow within her; however, vanity corrupts the woman’s mind. Mrs. Fletcher sees this gift as a blight on her body; the perception leading her to say “I don’t like children that much…I’m almost tempted not to have this one,” (). Welty points to vanity as the destroyer of beauty. The evil-mindedness of self-love breaks even the sacrosanct bond of motherhood.
The men do not escape the tyranny of Welty’s pen. Not one man the ladies speak of any redeeming qualities. Most of the men do not have employment. The men who have jobs are subject to castigation or criminalization. The unemployed men live on wage provided by their female partners. At first glance, one might think an economic down turn might be the culprit of the male plight. With the date Leota gives Mrs. Fletcher, 18 March 1941, and a quick check of employment data, one can see employment numbers high and moving up in pre-Pearl Harbor America. ( you have note to reform) This...