Delta Wedding (1946)

by Eudora Welty

Delta Wedding develops through the perspectives of multiple members of a Mississippi Delta family as they gather for the wedding of the second oldest child of her generation. The Fairchilds are a large, well-to-do clan that, in the words of a woman who married one of them, "thinks nobody else is really in the world."

It is September 1923, and 17-year-old Dabney Fairchild is about to marry beneath her, to the overseer on her family's cotton plantation, Troy Flavin. Ronnie Reid knows what marrying your "betters" in that family is like: A former store clerk, she's not considered deserving of George Fairchild in the eyes of his kin. Ellen, Battle Fairchild's wife, is better liked but will never be a Fairchild even after two decades of marriage and eight children. And even little Laura McRaven, whose recently departed mother was a Fairchild, feels like an outsider among her cousins when she comes in from Jackson.

Welty deftly tells the story through the voices — both conversations and thoughts — of many of the Fairchilds. The spotlight shifts continuously, though George might be thought the hub. Interestingly, he is revered by all of his relatives even though he left the homestead to be a Memphis lawyer and chose a wife they disdain.
A Mississippi native who lived most of her long life in the house in which she was born, Welty is generally considered a quintessential writer of the South. But while this novel portrays a family whose identity is rooted in a particular place, its theme of insularity's effects on outsiders is universal. Delta Wedding was the first of six novels by Welty, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Optimist's Daughter but may be better known as a short story writer.


Home               My reviews               My friends' reviews