Realization in Welty’s A Piece of News

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Realization in Welty’s A Piece of News

Ruby’s death fantasy reflects the conflict between her wants, needs, and life in this Eudora Welty story. We first meet Ruby while she is coming in from a storm with a package of coffee wrapped in newspaper from a man from Tennessee. We find out later that she has a habit of hitchhiking and picking up men from Tennessee. Welty writes, “When Clyde would make her blue, she would go out onto the road, some car would slow down, and if it had a Tennessee license, the lucky kind, the chances were that she would spend the afternoon in the shed of the empty gin” (14).

When Ruby comes in out of the rain, both she and the package are soaking wet. After drying herself off a little by the fire, she spreads the wet newspaper on the floor and lies down. Soon, she looks at the newspaper and reads her name: “Mrs. Ruby Fisher had the misfortune to be shot in the leg by her husband this week” (13). Immediately, Ruby connects her husband, Clyde to the crime, and she shouts out to him in the storm. However, she slowly realizes that “it was unlike Clyde to take up a gun and shoot her” (14). Nonetheless, she fantasizes about her funeral in a daydream, and when Clyde finally arrives home, she shows him the excerpt from the newspaper. Clyde vehemently denies the charges but, for a moment, is taken by Ruby’s assertion. In the end, Clyde proves to Ruby that the story cannot be about them because the newspaper is from Tennessee, and the storm rolls “away to faintness like a wagon crossing a bridge” (16).

Throughout the narrative, Ruby’s comings and goings are intimately connected to the storm outside. Specifically, the storm mirrors Ruby’s innermost thoughts and implies the cyclical nature of Ruby’s experi...

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...s often a perfect mirror of the feminine persona’s place within society, an image of the enclosure and of its victims, and thus the transformed hero who has survived this layer of her unconscious is unlikely to be able to reintegrate herself fully into “normal” society. (142)

When Ruby mixes fantasy with reality she unlocks a way to understand her relationship with Clyde. But as a result of claiming that her fantasy is a reality, she is regarded as crazy by Clyde, the narrator, and perhaps, the reader. Hitchhiking, storm, green-world lover, confrontation with Clyde, and journey into the unconscious create a transformational journey, which brings Ruby to realization, resignation, and madness. Ruby’s inability to change her situation despite her psychological inroads into knowing precipitates her odd behavior and keeps her journey from being fully transformational.

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