Coming to Age in Eudora Welty’s The Little Store

Coming to Age in Eudora Welty’s The Little Store

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Coming to Age in Eudora Welty’s The Little Store

Eudora Welty is one of the leading American writers of the twentieth century. In her work “The Little Store,” Welty recollects from her memories of growing up. She humbly admitted that she lived a “sheltered life” growing up in the South as a woman. From this perspective, Eudora writes her short story as a means to tell her passage into adulthood.

Growing up in the capital of Mississippi, Eudora lives only a few blocks from the capitol. She remembers from many different trips to the Little Store various moments of her childhood and compiles them into one trip. She encourages the reader by bringing realism to the work through the use of sensory writing. During each leg of her travel, some object creates a tangent in her mind of other memories. Although the story begins from a child’s perspective, there are hints of maturity arriving. The maturity provides “facts of life and death” (Welty 82) to Eudora.

Eudora is very talented with the use of sensory imagery. She describes her mother and household in terms of foods that have strong tastes, such as blackberries and lemons, which have distinctive aromas. When Eudora arrives at the store later in the work, she is overwhelmed by her grandiose surroundings. She knows she can have whatever she would like, from sodas, to fireworks, to sweets galore. She is enticed to the point where the readers become involved by thinking of what it is they would choose themselves. She uses senses to pull the reader into her story and it makes the story more realistic. However, in the end, this is a fact of life for Eudora: she cannot always have everything she wants. She must choose wisely or face the consequences.

After pulling the reader into the story, Eudora makes an attempt to relate to her audience. She would “bet that nickel that would be left over that all over the country … the neighborhood grocery played a similar part in growing up” (79).

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After this relation, Eudora is not only telling of her childhood memories, but she also makes the readers remember his or her own. This causes them to remember their “facts of life and death” (82) as well.

Signs of Eudora’s perfectionist attitude emerge when she passes the house of her school’s principal. She remembers that the word “oblige” costs her a flawless score on a spelling examination. As an author, this is a very distinct word choice. Children are obliged by society to become mature when it is time, especially children of Eudora’s time period. Despite Eudora’s obligation, the uncertainties of adulthood still “scare [herself] into the store” (79).

Another sign of her perfectionism is seen when she recalls a story about a boy down the street named Lindsey. Eudora recalls how the two of them had influenza at the same time. Her focus on this memory is on a poem she wrote, in which Lindsey died from his illness. After telling her parents the poem, her mother cried in shame and her father told her it was not as funny of a poem as Eudora originally thought. Eudora tells this story as a means to show that she regrets her poem. Eudora then tells her audience that this story has stayed with her for her entire life, realizing that “it’s all the others along [her] way who are making themselves indelible to [her]” (80). This realization is one of her facts of life: she should be careful in what she says, lest it come back to haunt her later.

Although her child’s eyes betrayed her to not notice the events that happened, Eudora finds out that there is a family that runs the Little Store. She neglected prior notice to this because she never saw the family closely interacting; the members seldom spoke to one another. No specific details are given by Eudora, but she has enough awareness to know some act of violence happened to this family. The violence shook the neighborhood, but the children were only told that they would hear of it when they were older. Her facts of death come from the happenings at the Little Store.

Eudora Welty wrote her short story, “The Little Store,” using sensory imagery to show her progression from childhood to adulthood. She recalls a journey to the Little Store, and along her way, places and things remind her of other memories. She shares particular memories with the audience to show how she interacted with her environment. This demonstrates how she was changed by the “facts of life and death” (82).

Works Cited

Welty, Eudora. “The Little Store.” Seeing and Writing. Ed. D. McQuade & C. McQuade. 1st ed. vol. 1 Boston: Bedford St. Martins, 2000. 78-82.
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