Delta Wedding By Eudora Welty

A summary of the classic work

Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty creatively unfolds through the overheard thoughts of the members of the Fairchild family. The oversized clan deals with a massive amount of external and internal issues that focus on both the unity and the conflict within this tight-knit Southern family. This novel does not focus on one person, place, or thing. The protagonist of Delta Wedding is the Fairchild family in that the author tells the story through the voices of the entire family. However, the character of George does stand out as the hero of the novel.

George Fairchild is the only family member in touch with reality, and he appears to be a knight in shining armor. Everyone is drawn to George. George has separated himself from the clan by moving away from the dynasty, and he has learned to differentiate the family members from the family as a whole. George Fairchild is the only character in the novel who has learned the value of love and honor above all else.

George's life had taken on a new meaning when he met the love of his life, Robbie Reid. He had stepped over the boundary, defied the Fairchilds, and married Robbie, a woman whom the family perceived as a threat to their social position, even more so than Dabney's betrothed Troy. Before Robbie's marriage to George she was a clerk at Fairchilds, the family's store. It isn't as embarrassing or unbecoming for Dabney to marry Troy because his background isn't well known, and Troy has been quick in learning to imitate Battle's every move. Battle will quickly move Troy up the ladder of success, whereas Robbie is a local girl whose background is impossible to hide. Robbie refuses to conform to the Fairchild traditions, she is considered to be an unfit wife for the magnificent George, and she has been a life long neighbor.

Dabney is most able to understand George's separateness in that she is greatly concerned about her family's dislike for Troy and the implications it may have on her life. Dabney fears the price she will pay for the betrayal will be more than she can bear. The Fairchild family does not invite outsiders and Troy is an outsider. He has been raised deep in the backwoods, and he is an employee of the Fairchilds. Considering Troy's background and lack of social standing, Dabney believes at times that she is betraying Fairchild by marrying "below" her social class. Dabney is aware that her father does not want her to go. She also knows one cannot escape being a Fairchild, but Dabney wants her freedom. Before the wedding she reflects on how protected she has been up until now, and Dabney feels the marriage will give her the freedom to face the real world, just as George found a similar courage within.

The dislike between Robbie and the family is mutual. Aunt Mac criticizes Robbie and Robbie strikes back: " 'Aunt Mac Fairchild!' said Robbie, 'You're all spoiled, stuck-up family that thinks nobody else is really in the world! But they are!'" Robbie is possessive and jealous, and George's family is equally possessive and jealous. Robbie is the ultimate outsider that the family loves to hate.

The family's thoughts concerning the invasive outsiders are opinionated and judgmental. The Fairchilds are protected by a self-made boundary that secures them from the outside world. Throughout this novel one discovers the family members often consider themselves as outsiders. Ellen, the wife of Battle Fairchild, is a twenty-year outsider member of this dynasty and knows the frustration of trying to become one of the Fairchilds. Robbie, the wife of George Fairchild, is an embarrassment to the family and will always be considered an outsider. Troy, the outsider-to-be, is judged as unsuitable marriage material for Dabney. And little Laura, the orphaned Fairchild, is treated as if she does not exist. The sight of Laura brings back memories of her mother, and the memories bring pain. In this story one has the opportunity to experience a family dealing with its own world in its own way. The novel Delta Wedding shares a family's struggle with conflict and compassion within the family unit, within the individual, and within the outsiders trying to penetrate the family's secure boundary.

A complexity of boundaries is found within each family member and encircling the Fairchild family as a whole, however George has been able to cross these boundaries both in physical sense and in an emotional one. He has separated himself as much as possible from the ties that sought to bind him to family tradition. These boundaries hold the family in a somewhat balanced world, and an outsider's intrusion into their world threatens the balanced security. George's separation from the family is therefore indicative of his separation with the family's narrow-minded attitudes as well.

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