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CAREY WALL San Diego State University Ordinary Genius in Eudora Welty’s “No Place for You, My Love” IN“WRITINGANDANALYZINGA STORY,”THEESSAYEUDORAWELTYWROTE about writing “No Place for You, My Love,” she states, “This third character’s role was that of hypnosis—it was what a relationship can do, be it however brief, tentative, potential, happy or sinister, ordinary or extraordinary” (777). In other words, a relationship does develop between the two central characters, and the relationship is active. In fact, the couple-for-half-a-dozen-hours in “No Place” act together very successfully. They quickly feel their fellowship in love-suffering; they are both bogged down in useless but unended personal relationships, she seemingly in a relationship to a married man, he in a worn-out marriage. Inspired by sharing the condition, they take their roles in a ritual of renewal, the kind of ritual that Welty’s characters successfully enact in many of her stories, the kind that reveals the characters’ drive for life, their ordinary genius at turning the flow of their lives from stagnation into a flow into the future (Wall, “June,” “Ritual,” “Burning,” “Eudora”). The woman from Toledo, performing, works up the love-suffering so that it can be handled. The man, taking the lead as a man of that time should do, drives them into the place of yet greater generative heat—light and strong impressions that instigate the woman’s work and later draw the two of them, in dancing, together. When they kiss, the woman passes the worked-up, dilated love-suffering to the man, then falls asleep, her work done and her trust in him to complete the action firm. They are a team and he will do his part, as he does. (Perhaps she senses that if he is alone, with her asleep, he will have greater occasion to do his envisioning.) The man, driving, sees the smudge fires for mosquitoes, and acting with a mind primed for symbolic transformation, casts the augmented love-suffering out of the two of them and back into the world. He sees the great face that they seem to be driving over and the great flaming figure in the sky. We barely glimpse the relief the couple’s trip, their time together, and their action may afford the woman, but we do see the man’s renewal of his youthful expectation of life and love in the story’s final paragraph. He is not reminiscing; he is restored to the capacity for that feeling. 238 Carey Wall “No Place” and “Writing and Analyzing” have puzzled Welty critics, seeming at odds with one another, leaving many silent on the story. Most of the relatively few critics to address the story allow their everyday social knowledge to determine that the man and woman do not make a connection. Noel Polk praises the story highly, acknowledges its mystery, but cannot see the relationship because, he notices, the man and woman do not even try to get to know one another: “Returning to New Orleans he stops the car and kisses her, but it is as though he feels obliged to; it is a meaningless, perfunctory gesture; he doesn’t even know whether he kisses her ‘gently or harshly’” (108). Ruth M. Vande Kieft argues, Miss Welty accomplished what she set out to do, but it was a perilous undertaking. She took a human feeling—a panicky, raw-nerved sense of exposure—and invested an entire landscape and journey with that feeling; she rendered a strong emotional effect without supplying much information about its cause. The vivid impressionism of this method is strangely exciting, but the story is not as fully and solidly alive as is a story like “A Worn Path.” (154) Michael Kreyling sees the man refusing to respond to “important calls of the heart” and argues, “Together, the man and woman are nevertheless separate; a radical difference or antipathy keeps them apart” (Eudora 121). They have “pretended an intimacy but never released themselves to it” (122). In a second approach to the story, as he reads “No Place” for thematic continuity with other stories in The Bride of the Innisfallen, Kreyling reveals one of his...


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pp. 237-253
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