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Representation Of Gender In Ladies In Spring By Eudora Welty

1663 words - 7 pages

Born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1909 Eudora Welty was clearly influenced both by her mother’s love of reading and her father’s interest in photography. By 1931, when her father died of leukaemia, she had obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin and then attended Columbia University Graduate School of Business where she focused on advertising. Returning to Jackson she worked for Jackson’s first radio station followed by the Works Progress Administration. On her web site Margret Bing outlines the key activities of the WPA in 1935 as a Federal initiative to provide work for both blue and white collar workers. In the case of white collar workers this was particularly in the field of public art, music, theatre and writing (Bing). At this time Welty was engaged in taking photographs of Mississippi people. A collection of these photographs was published in 1971 in One Time One Place: Mississippi in the Depression: a Snapshot Album. In the introduction to the 1996 edition William Maxwell when commenting on her work quotes a sentence from her novel, The Optimist’s Daughter: “The mystery of how little we know of people is no greater than the mystery of how much” (5), which captures the lightness of touch she employs to signify the essence of the characters in Ladies in Spring. Welty went on to right a range of short stories and novels receiving recognition both in America and Europe until her death in 2001.
This lightness of touch and photographer’s eye is also evident in the motif of colour used to sharpen the image particularly of the characters in her short story Ladies in Spring, as for example in, “dressed alike in overalls and faded coats, [...] one black headed, one tow headed” (1), Miss Hattie’s black hat and coat (2), the mysterious lady’s face had been white and still as magic (4) and “There ran the figure that the rain sheathed in a spinning cocoon of light” (6). The use of the adjectives black, white and shinning is evocative of a black and white photograph. This device helps set the short story in an appropriate time frame. The story is told by a covert narrator but focalised from the point of Dewey, looking back from adulthood, when he, as a young boy was taken on a truant fishing trip by his father. In her paper, Reticent Beauty and Promiscuous Joy: Textual Framing in Eudora Welty's "The Bride of the Innisfallen and Other Stories" Ruth Watson, identifies the intertextual referencing between the Excalibur myth and Ladies in the Spring. In particular she draws attention to the title as a, “circumtextual frame” is an ironic reference to Tennyson’s line about spring and a “young man’s fancy” (54). This can be considered in a Structuralist Analysis as an example of a cultural code: of Barthes five codes indicating the possibility of drawing parallels between the short story and Tennyson’s Idyll’s o the King. James R Kincaid writes in his entry on the Victorian Web, that the work is now considered one of the great...

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