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Eudora Welty: Life and Works Essay (Biography)

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Eudora Welty

Eudora Weltys works have always attracted the close attention of literary critics, nowadays her short stories are viewed as the masterpieces of American literature, however, her talent should not be limited only to fiction writing, because she was also a promising photographer, journalist, and essayist. Modern interpretations of her novels are always based on the author’s biography. It is not easy to distinguish the most important aspects of Eudora Weltys life, because all of them are closely intertwined, though, while analyzing her stories one should pay attention to her family relationships, her interest in photography, and her life in the South of the United States.

Family Relationships

The family has always been one of the most dominant motifs in Eudora Weltys works. In her opinion, family relationships lay the foundations for society; therefore, the author always paid special attention to this issue in her works. Among them we can single out such stories as “The Optimists Daughter”, “Delta Wedding” or “Losing Battles”. In these stories, Eudora Welty focuses on the bonds that unite family members. Apart from that, she analyzes the factors, which can severe these bonds, for instance, fear, jealousy, or rage (Westling, 25). Despite the fact, Welty never openly supported feminist movement, in her stories she often touched upon the position of women in the family. Her short story “The Ponder Heart” is about the person who beat his wife to death. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that she has never been an avid advocate of womens emancipation.


It is well known that Eudora Welty took a great interest in photography when she was young. The author always stated that her literary career was more important for her than photography but this aspect of her life immensely influenced her style. In her autobiographical book “Ones Writers Beginnings” she says “I learned that every feeling waits upon its gesture; and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it” (Welty, 85). Eudora Wetly’s style reminds that one of Chekhov who also focused his attention on minute details, which may speak volumes about a persons character or inner world. She believed that the author should realistically describe life and he or she does not necessarily have to interweave his own opinion into the story. Partly, it can be ascribed to her interest in photography, because it is the most objective kind of art.

Life in the South of the United States

Eudora Weltys works address universal issues, but her life in the South immensely influenced her outlook and became one of the dominant motifs of her literary and critical works (Westling, 53). Welty says that her views on life in Mississippi radically changed after she traveled across the United States (Susan Marr, 52). The author was not an active participant in the civil rights movement but her works eloquently prove that racism can lead only to the destruction of the nation. In her novella “Where Is the Voice Coming From”, written after the assassination of Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist, Eudora Welty vivisects the psychology of the person, who committed this crime. The main character tries to explain his motive for this murder. He is unable to identify the cause of his hatred; this man is full of phobias, which cannot be logically explained or described. The author shows that racism is futile at its core. Another Eudora Weltys story, dedicated to racial relationships in the South is “Delta Wedding”. Despite the fact that she skillfully disguises her attitude towards the racial problem, the description of African-Americans indicates that this issue is not overlooked or forgotten. These people are usually maltreated and viewed as children, unable to take care of themselves. Her story proves that American society is inclined to patronize African-Americans, instead of respecting them.


Therefore, we can arrive at the conclusion that Eudora Weltys stories can be analyzed from the following perspectives: her life in the South, family relationships and interest in photography, which had a strong impact on the subject area of her works and the style. Nevertheless, it should be taken into consideration that Eudora Weltys works cannot be viewed only within the context of her life because she wrote about problems that have always been acute irrespective of time or location.


Eudora Welty. “One Writer’s Beginnings” Harvard University Press, 1995.

Laurie Champion. “The Critical Response to Eudora Welty’s Fiction”. Greenwood Press, 1994.

Louise Hutchings Westling. “Eudora Welty” Rowman & Littlefield, 1989.

Suzanne Marrs. “Eudora Welty: A Biography”. Harcourt Trade, 2005.

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