A Piece Of News by Eudora Welty, 1937
The magic trick:
Twisting a comical, ironic story setup into a darker, more serious theme about abuse
There is a strangeness to this story’s setup that is funny, scary and, ultimately, very sad. A woman reads in the newspaper that her husband has shot her in the leg.
That’s a wonderful setup for a story, right? But it’s also a perfect summary of what it’s like to be in abusive relationship. The woman reading the article scoffs at the story, but then she grows confused and scared. She is paralyzed with terror at wondering where her husband is and what he will do when he sees the story. Did her husband already shoot her? Is he about to? What has she done to inspire his rage? She is the picture of battered and confused and helpless. And that’s quite a trick on Welty’s part.
But of course her husband, Clyde, was still in the woods. He kept a thick brushwood roof over his whisky still, and he was mortally afraid of lightning like this, and would never go out in it for anything.
And then, almost in amazement, she began to comprehend her predicament: it was unlike Clyde to take up a gun and shoot her.
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