The language, meaning, and otherworldliness of Eudora Welty's The Golden Apples, like the golden apples in Yeats' Song of the Wandering Aengus, invite yet often defy grasping. Gratefully, Lowry Pei has offered an informed and lucid perception of this collection, enabling readers to gain that much more ground towards achieving a valuable understanding of the stories, individually and as a whole.
Pei states initially that with The Golden Apples the reader, as an outside observer, must take on someone else's view of the world and "experience that other subjectivity, thinking thoughts he does not necessarily understand," in a reality that is not his own (415). This "other subjectivity" and the subjectivities that create an apparent reality for the self versus the objectivity of a natural reality--apart from yet encompassing and beckoning the self--constitute the major focus of the essay.
Welty's narrative style emphasizes the reader's role in perceiving and determining the essence of reality through various devices. The comparisons that she offers "have an apparent arbitrariness that challenges the reader to supply an explanation" while simultaneously "lead[ing] the reader away from what is and toward a constantly growing array of alternate realities" (Pei 416). Additionally, through non- sequiturs, unanswered questions, and narrative gaps, Welty positions the audience behind a screen of sorts--from which a character's "subjective state [is] perceptible but nevertheless impenetrable, something we can see (for a moment) but cannot share" (Pei 417). This idea echoes what Pei proposes as a major theme of the collection: "how we achieve communication between the accustome...
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... through dreams, role reversal, and nature, toward a complex and distinctly objective reality in which language truly communicates.
Overall, Lowry Pei's insightful essay provides, without an excess of convoluted rhetoric, essential and thought provoking interpretations of Welty's multi-layered collection. His effective use of examples from the stories heightens the impact of his generally thoughtful conclusions and his high regard for Welty's talent is apparent. Pei has achieved in effect, however in a necessarily limited way, that communicative aspect of language that marks the goal of many of the characters in The Golden Apples.
Pei, Lowry. "Dreaming the Other in The Golden Apples." Modern Fiction Review28.3
Welty, Eudora. The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. New York: Harvest-Harcourt
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