Family as Theater in Eudora Welty's Why I Live at the P.O.

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Family as Theater in Eudora Welty's Why I Live at the P.O. The outspoken narrator of Eudora Welty's "Why I Live at the P.O.," known to us only as "Sister," intends to convince us--the world at large--that her family has "turned against" her, led on by her sister, itella-Rondo. To escape her family, she explains, she has left home and now lives at the P.O., where she is postmistress. As she delivers her monologue, the narrator reveals more about herself than she intends. We see her as a self-centered young woman who enjoys picking fights and provoking melodramatic scenes in which she is the center of attention. Not too far into the story, we realize that others in the family behave as melodramatically as Sister does, and we begin to wonder why. The story's setting may provide the answer: In a small town in Mississippi, sometime after World War II and before television, entertainment is scarce. The members of this family cope with isolation and boredom by casting themselves in a continning melodrama, with each person stealing as many scenes as possible. The first-person point of view is crucial to the theme of Welty's story. It is both quicker and funnier to show that the narrator is self-centered and melodramatic than it would be to tell it. Sister is definitely the star in the melodrama. She begins her tale with "I," and every event is made to revolve around herself, even her sister's marriage: I was getting along fine with Mama, Papa-Daddy and Uncle Rondo until my sister Stella-Rondo just separated from her husband and came back home again. Mr. Whitaker! Of course I went with Mr. Whitaker first, when he first appeared here in China Grove, taking "Pose Yourself" photos, and Ste... ... middle of paper ... ...eful to show us, the narrator is not the only self-centered, melodramatic member of this family. Given the family history, we can be fairly sure that things will soon be back to normal. The narrator will move back home, and the family, welcoming the diversion, will no doubt find a way of turning her homecoming into a new round of excitement. Works Cited Prenshaw, Peggy Whitman, ed. Conversations with Eudora Welty. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1984. Romines, Ann. "How Not to Tell a Story." Eudora Welty: Eye of the Storyteller. Ed. Dawn Trouard. Kent: Kent State UP, 1989. 94-104. Welty, Eudora. The Eye of the Story: Selected Essays and Reviews. New York: Vintage, 1979. ---. One Writer's Beginnings. New York: Warner, 1984. ---. "Why I Live at the P.O." The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. New York: Harcourt, 1980. 46-56.

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