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New Essays on Eudora Welty, Class, and Race$
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Harriet Pollack

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781496826145

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2020

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496826145.001.0001

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The Lynched Earth

The Lynched Earth

Trees, Trespass, and Political Intelligence in Welty’s “A Worn Path” and Morrison’s Home

(p.35) The Lynched Earth
New Essays on Eudora Welty, Class, and Race

Donnie McMahand

Kevin L. Murphy

, Harriet Pollack
University Press of Mississippi

Focusing first on Welty’s “A Worn Path” then Morrison’s Home, this chapter discusses the authors’ treatment of landscape, which reverberates with lingering touches of racialized violence and trauma, and identifies how black characters read and decode its various evocations. The characters’ ability to recognize trees as signposts of the lynched black male body demonstrates a political consciousness necessary for their survival. Trees in these works figure as totems of death and destruction and as potent life-forces, pointing expectantly toward survival and regeneration. Shifting from figurative burial to affirmative acts of intrusion and trespass, these texts’ protagonists defy the forces of immobilization and the stereotypical images of southern black women depicted in earlier pastoral formations. Ultimately, this chapter argues that Welty and Morrison reorient the apocalyptic visioning of the antipastoral by bending the arc toward resilience and resurrection, permitting their terrain to appear mutably as bleak and beautiful, frightening and futurist.

Keywords:   Welty, A Worn Path, Toni Morrison, Home, black body, lynching, black pastoral

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