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Eudora Welty: Delta Wedding

Though novel-length, this is really an extended short story, going nowhere with no plot but the description of the large Fairchild family and their preparations for daughter Dabney’s wedding to Troy Flavin. Though the novel is well -respected, I found it dragging with nothing much happening. Welty explores many of her favourite themes. The men may provide the entertainment in the family but it is the women who provide the strength and continuity and who keep and have kept the family going. The connection to the land and to the local traditions is strong.

The key figure in the book is Laura, the young cousin who is visiting and who is able to observe the family as an outsider. Ellen,”the mother of them all”, remembers when she, too, was an outsider, coming to the Mississippi Delta from Virginia but she now has virtually severed all connections with Virginia (none of the Virginia family attend Dabney’s wedding) and become integrated into the close-knit Fairchild family.

The connection with the outside is the Yellow Dog, the Yazoo-Delta train, which brings Laura to the Delta at the beginning and which almost kills George and Maureen as we hear, when they were walking on the trestle and Maureen’s foot got caught. But the outside is remote in this novel, something you hear about only from afar and impinges on the Fairchild family hardly at all. This is a family that stays together.

Publishing history

First published 1946 by Harcourt Brace and Co.
Reprinted 1998 by Library of America