Mystery Vs Reality in the select novels of Eudora Welty. The literary career of Eudora welty now spans forty-five years, her stories and novels occupy a significant place in American fiction, and she herself is without question one of the two or there most important woman writers the South has produced. With her first publication, discerning readers know that hers was an extraordinary talent, finding in her work fresh insights into the human condition presented in a style marked by clarity, sureness of image and dialogue, and richness in human and technical skill. Both the south and the nation have honored her, the year 1980 alone bringing her the National Medal for literature and the Medal of Freedom as well as a state dinner hosted by Mississippi's governor and his wife. Other awards, grants, and honorary degrees have been received, she has been interviewed by scholars and journalists, and symposia are conducted on her work; yet she has remained modest and unassuming, living always at home in Jackson, Mississippi.
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One has all sent these perceptual tests: what appear to be two profiles facing each other change in the blink of an eye into the outline of the vase-or a sketch of an old hag turns into an Aubrey Beardsley beauty. Both the profiles and the vase, the hag and the beauty are always present in the sketches- that is, the lines which compose them are there - nut psychologists assure one that human perception is capable of receiving only one of the images at a time. The promise of this book is that, metaphorically speaking, Eudora Welty can see simultaneously the profiles and the vase that the vision of the world projected in her work is holistic rather than dualistic.
In welty's writings, life is not a matter of warring, irreconcilable opposites: subject- object, mind-matter, life-death, good-evil, past-present. Instead, hers is a vision of reality in which the traditional opposites exists in a polar unity. Reality is the whole, and the parts of any set are no more divisible, ultimately, then the positive pole of a magnet can be chopped away from the negative or a concave line can be drawn without simultaneously drawing a convex. In this view, one pole does not cancel out its opposites, but rather is necessary for its existence and can even be seen as its very source, one giving rise to the other in the dynamic relationship that the East associates with the principles of yin and yang.
Through the centuries the Aristotelian rule of non contradiction has provide a neat philosophical underpinning for this view of reality: a thing cannot be both X and not - X at the same time. The settling for easy either-or distinctions dictated by this paradigm has expressed itself in Western culture in a willingness, unlike Clement Musgrove's, to "finish things off" by seeing people and things single-as either the pagan or the true believer, the foreigner or the compatriot, the evil or the good, the false or the true, the ugly or the beautiful, the failure or the success, the stupid or the smart, the red or the imaginary.
The implications of a different view of reality one where both X and not-X can exist (easy to parrot, perhaps, on a e pluribus Unum level) are intellectually elusive. Welty's recognition of the difficulty of achieving this perception may be behind her labeling it as heroic in Jamie Lockhart's self-evaluation in The Robber Bridegroom. The suspicion that such holistic views reduce all existence to an indistinguishable blob repels. Troubling, too, is the thought that attaining such a vision would result in paralysis: if apparent contraries are really united if hierarchical relationships are denied (if neither X nor not-X can be regarded as "better" or "more important") what would be the basis for making choices-the sine que non of action?
However, the holism found in Welty's writing does not annihilate distinctions-Welty is well at home in the dualistic world we live in, and she knows that her characters-even the most perceptive- live within time, and in a society, and within their own skins (where it is proper- and necessary-that they perceive differences and make choices). Her precise and stunning use of the concrete specifics of her fictional times and places, so often applauded by critics, anchors her works in this everyday reality. What she offers her readers and what she en dowse her most enlightened characters with is the capacity to see vividly the world of everybody distinctions, dictated by the dualistic paradigm, while occasionally glimpsing that same world as a reality where ordinary distinctions do not apply.
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Welty's holistic vision allows for the human experience of separateness individuality and conflict-and all the pain and triumph associated with these. It also, however, suggests that those who exercise another way of knowing beyond analysis and discursive thinking, will see that there is no such thing as separateness: every part belongs inseparably to a larger whole. From this perspective, boundaries blur-between self and other; between the human and the natural worlds; between past, present, and future. To perceive this wholeness results in a mind that can be at ease with ambiguity hat can confront apparent paradox without being driven to resolve its tensions.
Welty recognizes, however, that to have only this sense of union-with no awareness of distinctions-would mean the loss of all contact with the phenomenal world, of all capacity to function in it. The highest human vision, therefore, is one that perceives at once - or in close succession- union and distinction. This meeting place of contraries is, for welty, the creative intersection: the nexus from which art and illumination arise.
This study suggests, on the other hand, that welty does point to a transcendental reality (though not a religious one), that her final word is not about chaos, but about order-the order of the unified whole -and that she intimates the essential wholeness, not just of art, but of life, even while recognizing that her characters usually see only fragments. It is the fragments which are the fictions, not the unity. The truly imperceptive characters in welty accept the fragments as the reality. The more sensitive intuit "mystery", which becomes, in this reading, the human view of unified reality when it is still concealed by the curtain of dualistic perceptions, but when the viewer has some sense that the whole story has not been revealed. To experience the lifting of that curtain, even momentarily, is the privilege reserved for the passionate few-those who learn a way to knowledge that the rational mind cannot pursue. This approach to welty's vision of reality argues against Derrida's idea of irreducibly plural meanings, by suggesting that even while welty's works destroy
Thus the aim of this study is to try to part a little further the curtain on this mystery at the center to welty's art. The study proposes that welty does not offer one a glimpse just of life's mystery (though that and the human experience of the boundaries of knowledge so that and the human experience of the boundaries of knowledge so often accompanying a confrontations of mystery are important themselves). Welty's writings also suggest specific features mystery. One believes welty's repeated return to the theme of the union of contraries implies definite ontological and epistemological principles - insights into the nature of reality and the way one can know it that calls for more settled for. Her double vision affects welty's psychology (that is, her understanding of how her characters work), her ethics (which involve, not the traditional attention to good and evil, but an evaluation of what contributes to or destroys wholeness), and her rhetorical strategies (especially her use of paradox and her choice of the symbols and imagery complexly revealing this vision).What one hopes will emerge is a sense of much more specific interconnectedness among welty's writings than has before been apparent- an interconnectedness of vision that in no way belies the independent and original insights of each work.
Miss Welty's fictional works are largely concerned with the mysteries of the inner life. She explains that to her interior world is "endlessly new, mysterious, and alluring"; and "relationship is a pervading and changing mystery; it is not words that make it so in life, nut words have to make it so in a story. Brutal or lovely, the mystery waits for people whatever they go, whatever extreme they run to. The term "mystery" has here to do with the enigma of man's being - his relation to the universe; what is secret, concealed, inviolable in any human being, resulting in distance or separation between human beings; the puzzles and difficulties one has about his own feelings, meaning and identity. Miss Welty's audacity is to probe these mysteries in the imaginative forms of her fiction.
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Welty's works are all tinged by a sense of mystery. She knows that reality is not something merely to be analyzed, that there is more to people than what one sees between their hats and shoes, and that the solemnest-and most joyous-challenge Faced by writer and by readers is to penetrate the shadow that divides Us from Then or It.
This study entitled Mystery Vs Reality in Select Novels of Eudora Welty attempts to make a detailed analysis of the mysteries in select novels of welty. The study deals with five novels according to the chronological order.
The first chapter titled "Introduction: Emanation of Southern Literature" introduces the Southern Literature down the ages and particularly focuses on the 19th and 20th century Southern Literature. It further introduces the contemporary writers of Eudora welty and distinguishes Eudora welty from her contemporary writers by clearly differentiating how she differs from her contemporaries in her style, theme etc.
The second chapter "The Robber Bridegroom" analyzes welty's mixture of fairy tale and history to expose the human desire to see life as simplex, while reality dances around in all its multiplicity. The collision of history and fairy tale can be viewed as rising out of the human impulse to simplicity life, to explain it in either-or. terms, while life's insistent complicity keeps demanding a way of looking at reality that transcends both fairy tale and history.
The third chapter "Delta wedding" explores the epistemology of holism: the kind of knowing that puts one in touch with a unified reality and contributes most to a sense of personal wholeness. The characters in this novel are wholeness. The characters in this novel are concerned in one way or another with questions of knowing. To acknowledge that one does not know, to sense that here is mystery, to suspect that in everyone there are layers of onions and hyacinths-these are the first steps toward the kind of knowing that the novel illuminates
The fourth chapter entitled "Embodiment of Self: Conflict between Extremes explores the novel The Ponder Heart. It focuses on welty's comic exploration of one woman's integrated self, a union of apparent opposites superior to the extremes between which she is turn. The dynamic, shifting, experimental combination of the qualities-with no static hierarchical ordering-is humanly superior to the rigid control of any one of the extremes. The flexible heart of clay will beat the heart of gold every time.
The fifth chapter titled "Dynamic Balance: The Tie that Binds" analyzes the novel Losing Battles. The novelist engages in her own most extended battle to subvert the dualistic language to the expression of holism. It further analyzes the series of remarkably complex image patterns welty creates to symbolize the unity that words cannot express directly. Virtue and harmony consist, not in accentuating the positive, but in maintaining a dynamic balance.
The sixth chapter entitled "Transformation of life: Learning to see Bridges" focuses on the novel The Optimist's Daughter. The novel explores the insights into what may be the most difficult to achieve of all holistic perceptions; the recognition of the necessary and creative connection between life and death. This novel; creates an awareness of the pulsating quality of life, emptying and refilling, transforming destruction into creativity.
The seventh chapter "Summing Up" analyzes how human life is bound with mysteries. Brutal or lovely, mysteries pervade in human life. When individuals fail to recognize the true value of human life, mystery prevails. Only the realization of truth, evades the mystery and help humankind to attain a holistic vision.
The novels focused on this study show Eudora Welty's variations on the idea of life's multiple comings together over a lifetime of artistic creation. The unity of theme in these works, linked with the variety of distinct and original expressions of that insight is itself an astonishing statement of Eudora Welty's holistic vision.