This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Family As Theater In Eudora Welty's Why I Live At The P.O.

976 words - 4 pages

Family as Theater in Eudora Welty's Why I Live at the P.O.

    The outspoken narrator of Eudora Welty's "Why I Live at the P.O.," known to us only as "Sister," intends to convince us--the world at large--that her family has "turned against" her, led on by her sister, itella-Rondo. To escape her family, she explains, she has left home and now lives at the P.O., where she is postmistress. As she delivers her monologue, the narrator reveals more about herself than she intends. We see her as a self-centered young woman who enjoys picking fights and provoking melodramatic scenes in which she is the center of attention. Not too far into the story, we realize that others in the family behave as melodramatically as Sister does, and we begin to wonder why. The story's setting may provide the answer: In a small town in Mississippi, sometime after World War II and before television, entertainment is scarce. The members of this family cope with isolation and boredom by casting themselves in a continning melodrama, with each person stealing as many scenes as possible.


The first-person point of view is crucial to the theme of Welty's story. It is both quicker and funnier to show that the narrator is self-centered and melodramatic than it would be to tell it. Sister is definitely the star in the melodrama. She begins her tale with "I," and every event is made to revolve around herself, even her sister's marriage:


I was getting along fine with Mama, Papa-Daddy and Uncle Rondo until my sister Stella-Rondo just separated from her husband and came back home again. Mr. Whitaker! Of course I went with Mr. Whitaker first, when he first appeared here in China Grove, taking "Pose Yourself" photos, and Stella-Rondo broke us up. (Welty, "Why" 46)


Clearly the narrator's descriptions are exaggerated, and because of this we may be tempted to view her account of events with skepticism. On the whole, however, she seems to be right when she tells us that the entire family has "turned against" her. Much of the story is presented in dialogue that shows her family picking on her, and it is unlikely that Welty would have her completely fabricate the dialogue. In The Eye of the Story, Welty tells us that a story may mean what it says or it may mean more than it says, but "it is not all right, not in good faith, for things not to mean what they say" (160).


This is not to suggest that the narrator's perceptions of things are always on the mark. She is probably kidding herself when she announces, at the beginning of the story, that everything was going well until Stella-Rondo ...

Find Another Essay On Family as Theater in Eudora Welty's Why I Live at the P.O.

Perspectives on Hope: Eudora Welty's A Worn Path, and Maya Angelou's Still I Rise

2026 words - 8 pages experiences of her ancestors. In the days before racial equality, the safety of black people was constantly jeopardized because society placed little value on them as human beings. The emotional damage to the psyche and self-esteem of the victims of racism was extensive for most. In considering the experiences of her forefathers, Angelou asks in “Still I Rise:” Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like

Why I Want to Live in Japan and Teach Children

840 words - 3 pages are having fun but learning as well. It is a great experience to get a child excited about learning. Their excitement builds my own excitement. Through out my years in high school I looked forward to going to 4-H camp as a counselor. I volunteered at the local club when I was old enough to do so. I knew it would be full of responsibilities to take care of and watch over children. It took patients and endurance to walk in the hot sun for most of

Why I Volunteer at the Children’s Hospital

779 words - 3 pages some of the patients have been there for five to six weeks in a row. I look forward to seeing their smiling faces each time I visit, yet I cannot help but hope they will not be there but will be at home the next time I visit. The children and youth I have met at Children’s Hospital have become dear friends, and they have taught me that leadership involves making the most of the talents we each have been given, and seeking excellece, not perfection.

Eudora Welty's The Little Store

901 words - 4 pages Eudora Welty's The Little Store Eudora Welty, the author of 'The Little Store,' is also the narrator in her story. Upon looking back at her childhood, Eudora realized she was a creative little girl who liked to read and to write. She had the naivety of a child. The town where I was born is only 150 miles from where Eudora was raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Therefore, I really enjoyed this story because I really felt like I could relate

Eudora Welty's The Golden Apples

688 words - 3 pages 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 "live in a

Lessons Learned in Eudora Welty's The Little Store

837 words - 3 pages about is how much candy she can get with the extra nickel. In everything that Welty does, she only thinks about herself. The transition of Welty from an innocent child is foreshadowed by her reflection comments. In the middle of telling a story about people she remembers as a child, Welty says how much they mean to her now. Eudora realizes now that everyday life as a child does not mean so much at the time but it stands for a lot later

Overcoming the Odds in Eudora Welty's A Worn Path

1834 words - 7 pages In the short story, "A Worn Path" Eudora Welty's plot is not all that clear in the beginning, but progresses as her character carries on against the overwhelming forces against her. In this short story a black elderly woman, Phoenix Jackson, must overcome the odds against her as she valiantly travels through many obstacles in order to contribute to the wellness of her grandson, for whom she is making this trip down "a worn path." It is at

Remembrance and Forgetfulnes in Eudora Welty's "The Optimist’s Daughter"

1659 words - 7 pages the novel as she is in denial about her past. This includes when she talks about how none of her family is living, though this is proven to be wrong later in the story when at Judge McKelva’s funeral her family shows up, exemplifying her dishonesty in the text. Due to her unpleasant personality, Fay is often seen as rude, obnoxious, and self-centered. Because of this, Fay is pitied by the others in the novel. Laurel found it strange “how Fay

I live my life a rebel, a vigilante, devils try to get at me

836 words - 3 pages Zachary Kincaid Anne Flanagan English 102 4 May 2014 I live my life a rebel, a vigilante, devils try to get at me Intro:Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African-American poet, novelist, and playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born to parents who had been slaves in Kentucky before the Civil War, Dunbar started to write as a child and was president of his high school's literary society. He published his first poems at the age of 16

Realism in Eudora Welty's A Worn Path

1169 words - 5 pages Realism in Eudora Welty's A Worn Path Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path" is a story that emphasizes the natural symbolism of the surroundings. The main character in the story, Phoenix Jackson, is an old black woman who seeks out to find medicine for her sick nephew. This story contains a motif, which is the continuous walking of Phoenix Jackson throughout her journey. She lives in the pinewoods and faces the challenging experience of

Life Struggles of Phoenix in Eudora Welty's A Worn Path

768 words - 3 pages Life Struggles of Phoenix in Eudora Welty's A Worn Path "A Worn Path," by Eudora Welty is a heartbreaking story about the heroic trip of an old African American woman, Phoenix. The readers won't find out right away the plot of the story or why Phoenix won't give up her exhausting trip to town-the conflict of this story-especially on a very cold day. The title, "A Worn Path," indicates that Phoenix has obviously walked down this path many

Similar Essays

Why I Live At The P.O

792 words - 3 pages China Grove In Eudora Welty's story, ?Why do I Live At The P.O.", the main character directs the focus of the reader through her own point of view. The story is set in a small Mississippi town, sometime after World War II. The time and the place have a significant effect upon the language used. This helps to create an overall mood that is dominated by Southern prejudices, interpersonal ignorance and simplicity; for example, Sister says ?Nigger

Why I Live At The P.O

1167 words - 5 pages Why I live at the P.O. was written by Eudora Welty in 1941. Sister, the first person narrator, who is a flat character in the story, causes external conflicts within her family as a result of her inner-conflicts. Such as lack of self-confidence and a demanding need to be the center of attention. Due to the conflicts she deals with inside herself, she is driven to move out of her family’s home and into the post office. In the beginning of the

Independence In Updike’s A&P And Welty’s Why I Live At The P.O

1282 words - 5 pages both novels the characters do great jobs at letting the reader know how he or she is feeling with “ Why I Live at the P.O.” the reader doesn’t get much of a personal thought process of sister but an overall view of her situation with her family and how they treat her. As with Updike’s “A&P” we see into how Sammy thinks and get more visual images from his thoughts and thought process. In “Why I live at the P.O.” the way we see her family talking

Why I Stoped Going To The Theater

855 words - 4 pages to your door for only $3 more. That sounds like the better bargain. These are some of the reasons why I no longer go to the movies and prefer to watch movies at home on Netflix. Yes, it is true that this approach does have some trade-offs compared to a theater experience like watching on a bigger screen, or waiting for the latest blockbuster to appear on Netflix, if I ever does at all, but in balance, I believe that watching movies at home is a far better way to spend your hard-earned cash.