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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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PRINTED FROM Mississippi SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mississippi.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Mississippi, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Faltering Narrative

Faltering Narrative

Eudora Welty’s “The Burning,” Slavery’s Ghosts, and the Politics of Grief

(p.133) Faltering Narrative
New Essays on Eudora Welty, Class, and Race

Susan V. Donaldson

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines Eudora Welty’s rejection of the Cult of the Lost Cause and its veneration of the Civil War, a conflict she associated with the kind of narcissistic melancholia Judith Butler interrogates in Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. Grief, Butler argues, can call one’s sense of self into question by providing potent reminders of the self’s dependence upon others and by unraveling the narratives that one begins to tell of oneself. Welty’s lone Civil War story “The Burning,” which closely parodies Gone with the Wind, juxtaposes the self-destructive grief of her southern white ladies who face rape and the destruction of their home with the illuminating mourning borne by their slave Delilah, who grieves for her own losses and for those of her masters, and in doing so signals a liberating break from the past and the possibilities of new identities and new stories.

Keywords:   Welty “The Burning”, Civil War, Lost Cause, Gone with The Wind, Judith Butler

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