Welty's Characterization in A Curtain of Green
Myth, symbol, and allusion are not an uncommon characteristic in Eudora Welty's works. By using characters such as Odysseus and leaving hints of symbolism in works such as The Optimist's Daughter Welty places many questions in the minds of her readers. After a reader has pondered these questions a categorization of the story takes place in the readers mind. Although different readers have different interpretations of literature one collection of Welty's short stories can be classified into two categories. Katherine Anne Porter's introduction to Eudora Welty's A Curtain of Green explains the two categories:
as painters of the grotesque make only detailed reports of actual living types observed more keenly than the average eye is capable of observing, so Miss Welty's little human monsters are not really caricatures at all, but individuals exactly and clearly presented: which is perhaps a case against realism, if we cared to go into it. She does better on another level-for the important reason that the themes are richer-in such beautiful storiesLet me admit a deeply personal preference for this particular kind of story, where external act and the internal voiceless life of the human imagination almost meet and mingle on the mysterious threshold between dream and waking, on reality refusing to admit or confirm the existence of the other, yet both conspiring toward the same end. (xxi)
According to Porter the two categories found in A Curtain of Green are that of grotesque or monstrous and that of beauty or standing on the gateway between consciousness and unconsciousness. Acknowledging that there are two categories for Welty's stories Porter also address's how the stories are categorized. By developing her characters Welty categorizes her stories as beautiful if the character(s) represents good or grotesque if the character(s) represents evil.
Welty doesn't come out and tell the reader if the characters are good or evil. Rather, she shines light on the character(s) true nature. New York Times writer Marianne Hauser explains Welty's characterization as the "simple, natural acceptance of everything, of beauty and ugliness, insanity, cruelty and gentle faith which helps the author create her characters with such clear sureness" (Hauser). It is this style of writing by which Welty categorizes her stories in A Curtain of Green.
A Curtain of Green begins with the story of Lilly Daw, a frail girl who has lived under the watch of three ladies her entire life. Lilly's story begins at a tent show where apparently a traveling xylophone player takes pity on her and winds up wanting to marry her. In the meantime Lilly's overseers have decided that Lilly should attend the equivalent of a community college outside of town. Tensions begin to rise when the three ladies try to decide Lilly's fate by wavering between school and marriage. The decision is eventually...