Essay: Humor and Pathos in the Short Stories

Pages: 2 (753 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage  ·  Buy This Paper

Humor and pathos in the short stories of Eudora Welty: "A Worn Path" and "Why I live at the P.O."

The stories of Eudora Welty, "A Worn Path" and "Why I live at the P.O." are both tales of heroism in unexpected places. The protagonists are ordinary people, who might otherwise be overlooked, if Welty did not give them a voice in prose. "A Worn Path" is a serious story, about an old woman named Phoenix who regularly makes a long pilgrimage to the town doctor to obtain medicine for her grandson. The bent, old woman would go unnoticed in real life, but Welty makes it clear in the woman's symbolic name that the compassion and determination of this grandmother is heroic and healing. "A Worn Path" is told in the third person, and is quietly tragic and hopeful, while "Why I live at the P.O." is a raucous, funny story told in the first person. "Sister" says that she has made a pilgrimage of her own, to flee her bickering, crazy family and her nemesis in romance Stella-Rondo. Now Sister is living at the post office, so she can get find peace. In this story, Welty takes family in-fighting and elevates it to an epically humorous level.

Eudora Welty's stories are all characterized by a highly detailed sense of place, perhaps because "Welty lived in her familial homes in Jackson for most of her ninety-two years" (Johnston 2005) However, this Southern author was much praised for "her radical experiments in subject and form" (Johnston 2005). Welty was noted for her humor and bringing to life the South in which she lived. Welty did spend many years of her youth traveling abroad, and was able to view local attitudes with a distanced as well as an affectionate eye.

The central protagonist of "A Worn Path" is African-American, and Welty's dispassionate third-person narrative point-of-view is unsparing in her depiction of poverty in a Southern setting where blacks face discrimination. However, the old woman is shown as a woman of quiet greatness, indomitable in spirit, like the Phoenix for which she is named. Ironically, the old woman is far stronger than the dog that attacks her or the hunter who can challenge her with a gun: nothing is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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