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Keen observations in an exquisite piece of humorous Southern writing.

The Ponder Heart - Eudora Welty

"The South impresses its image on the Southern writer from the moment he is able to distinguish one sound from another," Flannery O'Connor wrote in her 1963 essay "The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South," and Eudora Welty expressed a similar sentiment roughly 20 years later in her memoir "One Writer's Beginnings," when she wrote that ever since she had first been read to, and then started to read herself, there had never been a line that she had not heard as her eyes followed the words on the page, possibly out of the desire to read as a listener. And indeed, as Flannery O'Connor remarked in the above-mentioned essay, "the Southern writer's greatest tie with the South is through his ear."


While proof of the truth of these statements can be found throughout the literature written by both of these preeminent Southern novelists, Eudora Welty's novella "The Ponder Heart" is perhaps one of the most obvious examples thereof as it is actually written in the form of a monologue, addressed to an imaginary traveler who happens to find himself – by force of circumstance rather than plan – in the small town of Clay, Mississippi, somewhere off the main highway and not quite halfway between Tupelo and the Mississippi-Alabama border, in Edna Earle Ponder's Beulah Hotel; face to face with the hostess. "My Uncle Daniel's just like your uncle, if you've got one ... he loves society and he gets carried away," she immediately tells her visitor about her Uncle Daniel's "one weakness" and proceeds, without further ado, to tell her family's story; thus proving herself afflicted by that same weakness of "getting carried away," and as the reader/listener soon discovers, it is just as impossible to get a word in with her narrative as it is with Uncle Daniel Ponder.


Read more on my own website, ThemisAthena.info.


Preview also cross-posted on Leafmarks.

Source: http://www.themisathena.info/literature/welty.html#PonderHeart