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The Robber Bridegroom By Eudora Welty

981 words - 4 pages

The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty

Eudora Welty's first novel, The Robber Bridegroom, is a combination of fantasy and reality while exploring the duality of human nature, time, and the word man lives in. The union of legend, Mississippi history and Grimms' fairy tales create an adult dream world. Every character in the story has little insight to themselves and how they relate to the world around them. The antics of Mike Fink, the Harps, the bandits, and the Indians closely relate to Mississippi folklore. The blending of actual history and pure fantasy create a much richer form of entertainment. Mike Fink was an American frontiersman who is said to have beaten Davy Crockett in a shooting contest. The Harpe brothers were notorious rustlers and killers in the South. "After being felled by a bullet that paralyzed him, Big Harpe was decapitated; as the decapitation began, Big Harpe is reported to have said, "You're a God Damned rough butcher, but cut on and be damned" (Appel 70). The head was put on a post to warn other outlaws. The duality in man himself is a strong theme in the story. The men who fail to realize that man is a combination of good and evil are unable to succeed in the world around them. The Harps and to a lesser extent Mike Fink follow their most basic instincts to be frontiersmen. They are immersed completely in the lives they led and there is no other way to live. This inability to change is there downfall. The Harps are killed and Mike Fink is relegated to a lowly mail rider. This symbolizes the end of the lawless frontier. Unlike the Harps and Mike Fink, Jamie Lockhart, Clemet and Rosamond Musgrove are torn between two different personas in themselves. Jamie must separate the bandit in himself from the gentleman. Clement is torn between his past with Amalie, his first wife, and the present with his current wife Salmone. Rosamond is looking forward to the future, to be free from her stepmother and experience love besides that between father and daughter. The story is loaded with cruel and horrible acts. Mike Fink tries to kill Jamie and Clement for bags of gold; Clement's first wife dies after seeing their son thrown into boiling water by Indians, Kentucky Thomas is killed leaving his ugly wife to marry Clement, an Indian girl is raped and killed by Little Harp, and Rosamond is raped by Jamie. All of these acts are overpowered, however, by the humor of the characters. The three main characters represent clear opposites in their own characters. Rosamond is beautiful and pure but could not tell the...

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