« Quote | Main | Ben Kingsley »

”...she felt the world tremble...”

In "The Wanderers", the final story in Eudora Welty's The Golden Apples, the elderly Miss Katie Rainey is in her dying days.

Bleaching down by the roadside was a chair, an old chair she sold things from once, under the borrowed shade of the chinaberry across the road; but she didn't seem to want to sit down any more, or to be quite that near the trafficking. Clear up where she was, she felt the world tremble; day and night the loggers went by, to and from Morgan's Woods. That wore her out too. While she lived, she was going to wait - and she did wait, standing up - until Virgie her daughter, past forty now and too dressed up, came home to milk Bossy and Juliette the way she should. Virgie worked for the very people that were out depleting the woods, Mr. Nesbitt's company.

Plenty of interesting touches here: the woods, no longer an affordable luxury to the gentry of town, are being logged for timber; Katie, despite being a widow and mother of two, is always referred to as Miss Katie, not Mrs. Rainey; her daughter Virgie, immediately after coming home every night from her office job, has to milk (“too dressed up” and, as is mentioned later, still in her high heels) the two cows that remain from the herd that was once the Raineys' livelihood. Virgie, already "past forty" herself, is being courted by an even older man, yet can't make any commitment to him while Miss Katie is still alive, with Virgie's familial obligation to her mother still overriding any other considerations. Social propriety and tradition is still important to the people of Morgana, even as the world trembles and changes around them.

My Summer of Welty is winding down. After The Golden Apples, I'll read the handful of stories in Thirteen Stories that weren't in the earlier collections that I've read this summer. Her story collections aren't fully discrete, separate entities: there's a fair amount of overlap, with some stories appearing in more than one book. 

August 21, 2018 in Books | Permalink