"No Place for You, My Love" by Eudora Welty

24Dec04

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this story.

Welty seems to be playing with the mythic quest narrative. These two strangers journey to the end of the world (or Louisiana) but not to bring back a treasure or magic elixir, rather to have their fling. This quest doesn’t seem to be a coming-of-age narrative as many mythic quests are. Rather, in this quest this man and woman are trying to escape the social constraints that prevent them from exploring romantic urges. At the beginning of the story, the two are displaced from their usual environment and are hyper-aware of the social situation in which they were placed — the only Northerners seated at the same table at a party to keep each other company. They must journey to the more primitive part of world to have their brief romance, a dance and a kiss. The woman’s reminder of social constraints — her question about the man’s wife — prompts a slap from the man.

Their relationship is rather short-lived and seemingly unfulfilled. They dance in a shabby diner for a while (substitution for sex?) and then share one kiss before driving back to civilization. And the relationship seems to be an outlet only for the man. He determines when he first sees the woman that she looks like a woman who would have an affair with a married man. His desire for a relationship propels their journey. The woman seems pulled along by his desire.

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