Other Subjectivity in Eudora Welty's The Golden Apples
The language, meaning, and otherworldliness of Eudora Welty's The Golden Apples, like the golden apples in Yeats' Song of the Wandering Aengus, invite yet often defy grasping. Gratefully, Lowry Pei has offered an informed and lucid perception of this collection, enabling readers to gain that much more ground towards achieving a valuable understanding of the stories, individually and as a whole.
Pei states initially that with The Golden Apples the reader, as an outside observer, must take on someone else's view of the world and "experience that other subjectivity, thinking thoughts he does not necessarily understand," in a reality that is not his own (415). This "other subjectivity" and the subjectivities that create an apparent reality for the self versus the objectivity of a natural reality--apart from yet encompassing and beckoning the self--constitute the major focus of the essay.
Welty's narrative style emphasizes the reader's role in perceiving and determining the essence of reality through various devices. The comparisons that she offers "have an apparent arbitrariness that challenges the reader to supply an explanation" while simultaneously "lead[ing] the reader away from what is and toward a constantly growing array of alternate realities" (Pei 416). Additionally, through non- sequiturs, unanswered questions, and narrative gaps, Welty positions the audience behind a screen of sorts--from which a character's "subjective state [is] perceptible but nevertheless impenetrable, something we can see (for a moment) but cannot share" (Pei 417). This idea echoes what Pei proposes as a major theme of the collection: "how we achieve communication between the accustomed subjectivity that is over here and the bewildering one that is over there" (418). While this suggested theme comes across rather vaguely, his acknowledgement of these striking phenomena and their intention reveals some of the meaning behind the sense of bewilderment that readers often experience in Welty's work.
Following his analysis of the reader as an active and essential observer, Pei cleverly asserts that the characters in The Golden Applesparallel the reader and...