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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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Moon Lake’s Orphans and “The Other Way to Live”

Moon Lake’s Orphans and “The Other Way to Live”

(p.79) Moon Lake’s Orphans and “The Other Way to Live”
New Essays on Eudora Welty, Class, and Race

Jean C. Griffith

University Press of Mississippi

This essay examines the roles the character Easter in “Moon Lake” plays in the context of early-twentieth-century debates about the roots of poverty and society’s level of responsibility to poor children. By placing the focus of the story not on Easter but on the genteel Morgana girls’ shifting attitudes about her, Welty illustrates the ways child welfare policy was shaped by conflicting attitudes, whereby sympathy for innocent children coexisted with scorn for their parents. Assuming that Easter lives outside the boundaries that mark their own places in Morgana’s gendered, class-bound, and racially-segregated society, Jinny Love Stark and Nina Carmichael imagine the “orphan” to embody a womanhood untethered by race or rank, one, perhaps, more representative of American democracy. Ultimately, though, the girls come to see that Easter’s status as an orphan makes her more marked by and vulnerable to the violence and oppression that shape the South’s racial patriarchy.

Keywords:   orphan, Child welfare policy, attitudes toward the poor, white womanhood, racial patriarchy

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