Interpretation of Eudora Welty - No Place for you, my Love

Seminar Paper, 1995

13 Pages, Grade: very good





3.1 The Woman
3.2 The Man




7. The Third Person




In 1955, Eudora Welty published "The Bride of Innisfallen", a collection of seven stories including "No Place for You, My Love". The short story takes the readers an a couple's journey into the bayou country south of New Orleans where the two main characters try to find fulfillment of love. Before I go into detail about this unusual trip, I want to give a brief outline of the plot and characterize the protagonists and focus an their relationship. Although the characters are important, here the most interesting and fascinating part of the story is the journey itself because it reflects the relationship. In the following chapters I concentrate an the trip's development and the atmosphere created around it before finishing with an explanation of the point-of-view used.


A man and a woman find themselves seated side by side in a restaurant in New Orleans. They are strangers to each other and to the place. She is about 32 - as he figures - and from Ohio. By just looking at her, the man thinks she is a woman having an affair. He is a married middle-aged businessman from the East. After exchanging a few insignificant words, they leave the group of friends they came wich and go for a ride into the bayou country south of New Orleans. The drive leads them out of the city into the quivering summer heat along a road that finally simply ends somewhere close to the water. It is slowly getting dark, and the man and the woman decide to have a rest at Baba's Place, a fishermen's pub at the waterfront. They dance. Bathed in sweat, they leave and retum to New Orleans. On their way back, he stops the car and tries to kiss her. Up to this point the story gradually builds up. I expected a sexual relationship, and this is the turning point of the development. But then "their faces touched unkissing" (36). For nothing has happened up to this moment, nothing will happen anymore. The action falls with their ride back to the city and ends when he drops her off at her hotel. The title of the story anticipates its denouement. There is "No Place for You, My Love".


The readers do not receive a lot of information about the two protagonists. Except a few details most of their appearance, their past and future are left to our imagination.

3.1 The Woman

Like the male protagonist the woman is a stranger to New Orleans. She is from Toledo (Ohio) which can be heard because she speaks "with the heart of Ohio in her voice" (20). Her outward appearance is not extraordinary. She wears a dress, earrings and a frivolous hat with "some sort of glitter or flitter tied in a band around the straw and hanging down" (20). According to the man, it does not suit her at all. He guesses her age at 32. There is something about her that attracts his attention. The "moment he saw her little blunt, fair face, he thought that here was a woman who was having an affair" (18). "She had that naive face that he associated, for no good reason, with the Middle West - because it said Show me,' perhaps" (19). He calls it a "serious, now-watch-out-everybody face" (19) which distinguishes her from the rest of the company.

She sits at the table in the restaurant, leans her cheek an her little square hand "looking no further before her than the flowers an the table" (19). "It must stick out all over me, she thought, so people think they can love me or hate me just by looking at me" (19). The readers never receive explicit information about her affair, but there are several clues telling us about her unhappy, hopeless relationship. She gives the information that she is in love herself "People in love like me..." (19) But her deliberate imperviousness communicates hopelessness to the man. Later, when dancing at Baba's Place, he sees the bruise caused by her lover an her temple, which, at that moment, she felt coming out like an evil star.

Let it pay him back, then, for the hand he had stuck in her face when she'd tried once to be sympathetic, when she'd asked about his wife (33).

In the beginning, the woman's imperviousness left the impression of a person who - though not happy at the moment - still is self-confident and spontaneous enough to risk a ride with a stranger and maybe another affair. She does not seem to have much to lose. On their journey south she soon reveals nervousness and vulnerability. Standing an the crowded ferry and holding the hot rail before her she thinks "they all must see that with her entire self all she did was wait" (24). The man only notices her "measuring coolness" (25) because she looked at the alligator brought by some passengers without flinching at all. He does not know how muck she forces herself to look at the alligator when leaving the ferry. Inside, the woman feels a panic rise the further south they drive. "How dear - how costly - could this ride be?" (26) To him she talks cheerfully. Not until the couple reaches Baba's Place, the woman indicates her real feelings about this trip. ‘I believe there must be something wrong with me, that I came an this excursion to begin with,' she said." (29) The nervousness does not leave her until an the drive back when she falls asleep. In the end, nothing has changed for her.

3.2 The Man

The male protagonist of Eudora Welty's short story is a dark-haired Eastern businessman from Syracuse, older than the woman, maybe in his forties. He has been married for a long time, but the marriage does not seem to be a happy one. His "wife had recommended that he stay where he was this extra day so that she could entertain some old, unmarried college friends without him underfoot" (37). He seems to be a dominating, self-centered and self-assured figure. On the graveyard "he passed between the tombs slowly but in the manner of a feat" (27), and whereas the woman is hardly able to eat anything at Baba's Place the man is not tense at all and eats two "good solid" (30) ham sandwiches - "ham, cheese, tomato, pickle and mustard" (31). The manicured hands conclude to a well-groomed outward appearance. As a businessman he wears a collar and a tie and needs to have some interest in clothes, but he "had no interest whatever in women's clothes and no eye for them" (19). Maybe he only cares about himself. He drives with "brisk, angry motions" (35) at a "demoniac" (36) speed which also does not let him appear to have a very gentle personality.

The man plays the active part in this story. All the initiative comes from him which he obviously enjoys. He prefers the woman's naive Middle-West-face saying "Show me" (19) to the "Southern mask of life-is-a-dream-irony" (20). Perhaps this type of woman does what he wants. There is just one moment when the woman changes from reacting to acting. She notices the man's wedding ring and asks about his wife. He is annoyed.


They are two strangers seated next to each other in a restaurant where "the friends he and she were with recognized" (18) across the room. Immediately, the man thinks that she is having an unhappy affair. Her deliberate imperviousness communicates hopelessness, and he does not want do make her disloyal to it. "What they amounted to was two Northerners keeping each other company" (19). But it is more than that. Both are stuck in unhappy relationships. The man notices it by looking at her; the woman sees his wedding ring. They do not get closer during their journey and mostly ride in silence. Neither of them reveals anything of importance about personal feelings. She tries it once and Shows nervousness when saying, "I believe there must be something wrong with me, that I came an this excursion to begin with" (29) and is afraid to reveal herself. Her "own cheeks felt like the hyacinths to her, all her skin still füll of too much light and sky, exposed" (29). He does not respond to the woman's comment which surprises me because most of his thoughts are preoccupied with her past and this would have been a chance to get to know more about it. The woman never ponders over him. She is too absorbed in her own situation. "Her distance was set - the number of feet and inches between herself and it mattered to her" (25). Here the distance between the woman and the alligator an the ferry represents the distance she keeps to the man. Ort the graveyard names "took their places an the walls slowly at a level with the eye, names as near as the eyes of a person stopping in conversation, and as far away in origin" (27). During the journey their bodies get closer, but their souls do not. At Baba's Place they dance.[1]


[1] Cf. Peter Schmidt, The Heart of the Story. Eudora Welty's Short Fiction (o. O., 1991), p. 52.

Excerpt out of 13 pages


Interpretation of Eudora Welty - No Place for you, my Love
University of Bamberg  (Language and Literature Sciences)
U. S. Women Writers of the 19. and 20. Century
very good
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
422 KB
Eudora Welty, Short Story
Quote paper
Ute Hennig (Author), 1995, Interpretation of Eudora Welty - No Place for you, my Love, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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