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PAUL ALEXANDER CANTRELL Independent Scholar “Flounder, Flounder”: Doubling in Eudora Welty’s “Music from Spain” THIS STUDY OF DOUBLING IN “MUSIC FROM SPAIN”MARKS A NEW APPROACH to the motif in Welty’s work, although it has some noteworthy antecedents. Allison Pingree rightly notes Welty’s “preoccupation with duality” and points out that “patterns of doubling are very common in her work” (83). Her “Circles of Ran and Eugene MacLain” provides a fitting point of departure, as it entails a veritable catalogue of pairs, twins, doubles, and circular imagery in Welty’s story. Whereas Pingree’s primary concern is twins, I intend to focus on the story’s situation within the specific paradigm of doubling literature as a genre. Otto Rank, whose The Double perhaps still remains the definitive treatment of the subject, finds the genre’s early continental forebears among Jean Paul, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Alfred de Musset. From there, one may easily trace the literature to James Hogg and Robert Louis Stevenson in Scotland and to Edgar Allan Poe in America, among others. This doubling narrative tends to follow a certain template, the best contemporary example of which would arguably be Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club and David Fincher’s subsequent film adaptation. The structure of this doubling template is indispensable to the overall architecture of “Music from Spain.” The present study explores the ways in which Welty manipulates, subverts, and, through the dialogic interplay she establishes between doubling and classical mythology, ultimately transcends the genre of doubling literature altogether. Ruth Vande Kieft outlines the duality essential to Welty’s collection: Throughout The Golden Apples we find juxtaposed two sets of characters. There are the wanderers who are expressive in action, wild, rebellious, free, over-flowing, self-determining;buttheyaredrivenbyfiercehungersandyearnings.Thecharacters who serve as their foils appear to be re-actors more than actors. They tend to be passive, helpless, outreaching; their characteristic activity is quietly unobtrusive and inward, for they observe and learn, feel and wonder. (122) She includes Eugene MacLain in the latter group, most of whom are “almost necessarily feminine, or very young” (123). However, one may just as easily place Eugene within the first camp insofar as he is, at least 190 Paul Alexander Cantrell on the day on which the story takes place, a wanderer, “driven by fierce hungers and yearnings.” Just as one attempts to locate Eugene in one part of Vande Kieft’s duality, he appears in the other. “‘Duality,’” as Karl Miller points out, “is a word which means that there are two of something, and which has also meant that some one thing or person is to be perceived as two” (21). Eugene is thus a duality unto himself. Michael Kreyling traces this interior split to the moment when Eugene reflects on having struck his wife Emma earlier that morning: “He has become two—one who acts, one who watches him act. Alienation is not exactly the word for Eugene’s plight” (95). This struggle for the mot juste is because even the act itself detaches from Eugene. For now, he is at once voyeur and object of the gaze. Doubling often involves self-alienation, which entails the appearance of an Other on whom to project this gaze. One may well say that this need itself is what spawns the double, for these two otherwise irreconcilable phenomenological positions cannot stay housed within one persona for long. At the root of this need for othering lies Eugene’s guilt for having struck his wife. He appears even baffled by the act as it haunts him throughout the day: “Why . . . had he struck Emma? His act—with that, proving it had been a part of him—slipped loose from him, turned around and looked at him in the form of a question. At Sacramento Street it skirted through trafficbesidehiminsuddendependency, almost like a comedian pretending to be an old man” (474-75). This separation marks a pivotal moment in which “his ‘fault’ becomes an alter-ego, a twin being which is dependent on him, yet also concrete enough to stand apart and indict him” (Pingree 91). It is as though Eugene’s “act”—more precisely, his resultant guilt from the act...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2689-517X
Print ISSN
0026-637X
Pages
pp. 189-212
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-27
Open Access
No
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