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The Chiasmic Embrace of the Natural World in Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding

The Chiasmic Embrace of the Natural World in Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding The Chiasmic Embrace of the Natural World in Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding by Kelly Sultzbach In southern literature, interactions with the land have often defined the people themselves. Although Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding has been labeled as a southern pastoral, the natural world in the novel doesn’t operate solely on a symbolic level; the environment Welty creates is thoroughly palpable. The heaving shoulder blades of birds in song, skin wet with bayou water, the heartbeats of kittens, the sting of a bee — all are examples of how non-human forces interact with her characters to create a natural world that is tactile and animate. Furthermore, charac- ters’ sensory contact with the natural world shapes the novel’s themes of finding community and coping with the pain and loss necessary for new growth, as well as destabilizing hierarchical relationships between different classes and races of people. Understanding how nature func - tions as a physical presence in the novel is critical to recognizing Wel- ty’s critiques of the society living within it. In her autobiography, Welty explains, “[t]he outside world is a vital component of my inner life” (One 76). Similarly, her characters, particularly Laura and George, gain new insight into http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

The Chiasmic Embrace of the Natural World in Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 42 (1) – Jan 27, 2010

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

The Chiasmic Embrace of the Natural World in Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding by Kelly Sultzbach In southern literature, interactions with the land have often defined the people themselves. Although Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding has been labeled as a southern pastoral, the natural world in the novel doesn’t operate solely on a symbolic level; the environment Welty creates is thoroughly palpable. The heaving shoulder blades of birds in song, skin wet with bayou water, the heartbeats of kittens, the sting of a bee — all are examples of how non-human forces interact with her characters to create a natural world that is tactile and animate. Furthermore, charac- ters’ sensory contact with the natural world shapes the novel’s themes of finding community and coping with the pain and loss necessary for new growth, as well as destabilizing hierarchical relationships between different classes and races of people. Understanding how nature func - tions as a physical presence in the novel is critical to recognizing Wel- ty’s critiques of the society living within it. In her autobiography, Welty explains, “[t]he outside world is a vital component of my inner life” (One 76). Similarly, her characters, particularly Laura and George, gain new insight into

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jan 27, 2010

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