No Place For You, My Love by Eudora Welty, 1952
The magic trick:
Evocatively describing the New Orleans countryside to the point where the setting nearly functions as the story’s main character
Welty paints the couple’s drive south of New Orleans in a beautiful, dark light – almost mystical and supernatural. The vividness of the setting is itself spectacular, but it also serves as the story’s crucial conflict. The man and woman seek escape from the constraints of the city and their respective lives, and the rural Louisiana they adventure through provides such a getaway. They just don’t understand how to communicate in this setting or with this setting. The couple is incapable of truly appreciating the foreign setting, or linking this experience with their normal existence.
As a result, I came away from the story thinking less about the couple and the difficult nature of communicated emotions and more about the mysterious sadness shrouding the story’s setting. And that’s quite a trick by Welty.
There was water under everything. Even where a screen of jungle had been left to stand, splashes could be heard from under the trees. In the vast open, sometimes boots moved inch by inch through what appeared endless meadows of rubbery flowers.
Her eyes overcome with brightness and size, she felt a panic rise as sudden as nausea. Just how far below questions and answers, concealment and revelation, they were running now – that was still a new question, with a power of its own, waiting. How dear – how costly – could this ride be?