Eudora Welty

Literary Critique - Why I Live at the P.O.

Eudora Welty
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Eudora Welty and the Dysfunctional Family

Welty portrays a dysfunctional Southern American family in “Why I Live at the P.O.,” reminiscent of the troubled, grating regionalism present in the work of William Faulkner. Published in 1941, this story contains a toned down version of the dialect Faulkner favored to convey a character’s background and education.

With a conversational, first person delivery, the protagonist shares the embarrassing details of her life, but cannot be classified as an antihero. Her family argues, each petty problem worse than the last. The bickering is obnoxious. A harsh cacophony of words indicates a power struggle is taking place, sibling rivalry the catalyst.

As this clash intensifies, she determines she’ll be safer and happier living at the post office, her place of employment. The narrator’s personality is a result of her upbringing in a stressful environment. None of these characters have matured emotionally, and even her older relatives exhibit childish dispositions.

Welty’s candid tale touches on serious domestic strife, yet entertains like a confession magazine piece.