Welty certainly managed but the fact that a fellow Mississippian, Trent Lott, has risen to the heights of Republican power in the US Senate does not speak nearly as well as that for the future of the struggle in the rest of the country to achieve anything like racial and class equality. Lott does not impress me as the kind of man who would be able to read and learn from the literary legacy of any woman, especially from one as gifted as Eudora Welty. She would only threaten and frighten him. In "Keela, the Outcast Indian Maiden," Welty exposes a technique of naming and disguise that has always been effective in the mischaracterizations bigots use to imprison the weakest members of our social hierarchy on the lowest levels of political and economic achievement anyone can think or imagine. Nicknames always take precedence over actual surnames in that region of the country so it would be indecorous for Welty to give him more of a name than that. To do so would lift him out of the status he deserves according to the hierarchical structures of southern bigotry.
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Welty certainly managed but the fact that a fellow Mississippian, Trent Lott, has risen to the heights of Republican power in the US Senate does not speak nearly as well as that for the future of the struggle in the rest of the country to achieve anything like racial and class equality.
Lott does not impress me as the kind of man who would be able to read and learn from the literary legacy of any woman, especially from one as gifted as Eudora Welty.
She would only threaten and frighten him. In "Keela, the Outcast Indian Maiden," Welty exposes a technique of naming and disguise that has always been effective in the mischaracterizations bigots use to imprison the weakest members of our social hierarchy on the lowest levels of political and economic achievement anyone can think or imagine.
Nicknames always take precedence over actual surnames in that region of the country so it would be indecorous for Welty to give him more of a name than that. To do so would lift him out of the status he deserves according to the hierarchical structures of southern bigotry. Being an African-American dwarf, who cannot walk without the aid of crutches, in rural Mississippi Cane Springs , necessarily locks him into a name and a title meant to sustain the impression that such a person can never be anything except very, very small and totally insignificant.
Little Lee Roy became Keela when he was kidnapped, even as a child, when the owner of a traveling circus passing along the road by his house saw him sitting on a fence and decided to add him, even against his will, of course, to the menagerie of "freaks" he kept and maintained for his sideshow of human oddities.
Steve, who does most of the talking, was the front man for the sideshow during part of the time that Keela performed for the circus and is trying to explain to his companion, Max, who owns a tavern in the town, how and why he was unable to recognize the fact that Keela was not an Indian Maiden at all but was actually a kidnapped black man stolen as a child from rural Mississippi and forced to perform as a savage Indian who ate raw chickens after killing them by biting off their heads.
Steve says, for instance, that, after the intervention of a person left mostly undescribed by Welty, the owners of the circus were arrested by a local sheriff and forced to remove the disguise that made Little Lee Roy appear to be an Indian when they "Washed its face, and it was paint all over it made it look red. It all come off. And it could talk-as good as me or you. So nobody ever come near it.
Max responds by saying that "Bet I could tell a man from a woman and an Indian from a nigger though" Steve was going to give the black man some money, as expiation for his guilt apparently, but has gotten to the house without a penny to his name. Welty ends the story with Little Lee Roy beginning to tell his sons and daughters the events of the day but they have already heard everything they want to know about the circus and tell him to hush.
Welty shows us in this story how easy it is to conceal the true nature of virtually anyone or anything under the thin disguise of a coat of "paint" and the use of a name to identify the person or object that is being hidden. Use of the word "Indian," coupled with a veneer of paint to conceal the true "color" of his skin, turns him from African American to native American. Welty employs this same technique in her fairy tale novel The Robber Bridegroom. In that story a notorious highwayman, Jamie Lockhart, who haunts the Natchez Trace, robbing anyone he can catch, wears a disguise which consists solely of a thin veneer of berry juice rubbed on the exposed parts of his skin.
He does absolutely nothing else to conceal his identity. Without the berry juice, Lockhart can walk the streets of any town without fear of being recognized by any other person, even by the very people he has robbed along the Trace.
Little Lee Roy becomes the "Indian Maiden" by simply concealing his blackness under a coating of red paint. Jamie Lockhart, who is considered to be an acceptable member of society without his disguise, can simply add a coating of berry juice to become the most notorious highwayman in southern American history.
That Welty uses these stories, and this technique, to condemn racial bigotry cannot be more obvious. In The Robber Bridegroom, for instance, and wholly in the context of the folklore tradition that underlies it, the disguise Jamie Lockhart "wears" to conceal his identity has no racial overtones at all, but is merely a device consistent with the tradition that dictates the terms of the marriage between the robber and his bride; that is, as long as she does not know his true identity they will remain together.
If she uncovers his identity, however, they will suffer total estrangement from each other. When reading her tale, the disguise, and whether or not it can reasonably function to conceal his identity, becomes incidental to the fact that it does work under the demand of the suspension of disbelief. Little Harp abuses and poisons the Indian maiden, cuts off her little finger, rapes and murders her.
Welty does not present a white response to this brutality through the characters in the story who witness it, except to have them say to Little Harp "You have killed her now" At that moment Jamie Lockhart returns, sees the dead woman and is told by Little Harp that it is Rosamond he has murdered.
Lockhart attacks him and expels him from the house. He then discovers it is not Rosamond who has been murdered and "could not speak at all, but fell upon his bed" The Indians then begin a process of revenge by systematically rounding up the white people who might have been responsible for her death in order to try them before their court. An unforeseen force, as it were, in the person of a marginally human creature named Goat, escapes the Indian net and begins to set the white captives free one by one in exchange for the promise of a future reward.
Jamie Lockhart and Little Harp fight to the death after Goat releases them and Lockhart escapes after he kills his adversary. She insists that the Indians try her in place of the others because she refuses to be second in significance to anyone.
Before the Indians can say anything to her, however, she gives "them a terrible, long harangue that made them put their fingers in their ears" The Chief of the tribe demands that she be silent but instead she repeats over again what she has already said. They tell her that the sun itself demands her silence so she insults the sun: "She would throw mud on the face of the sun," as Welty has them put it Salome claims she can command the sun to stand still in the sky and the Indians decide she must dance until the sun obeys her order.
If she stops dancing before the sun ceases to move, however, the Indians will kill her. As she dances, the Chief tells her that "One like you cannot force him, for his home is above the clouds, in a tranquil place. He is the source of our tribe and of every thing, and therefore he does not and will not stand still, but continues forever" Salome dances until she can dance no more and "There she stood, blue as a thistle, and over she fell, stone dead" While Clement is still bound up in his captivity, he witnesses the exchanges between Salome and the Indians.
Welty says that "Clement. Why have I built my house, and added to it? Given a choice between one view and the other, as to which one might be the more accurate description of reality, I am naturally inclined to follow the native view over the one expressed by Clement. The fact that Welty even sees a meaningful distinction in this context raises her above the common ground of most American fiction writers in this or any other Century.
What truly sets her apart can be seen in the way she separates native and European practices. No man, and none of the elements! That the Indians drum her to death in the dance, even while they themselves seem to be perishing, suggests that natural forces, like the ones that brought native Americans into existence in the first place, will eventually engender their return out of the waste that Europeans bring to any land they invade and inhabit. The sun truly does continue to move forever in its course and only those people and those cultures that follow along after its cyclical rhythms, while others may supplant them here and there and momentarily, are the only ones who have any hope of lasting out the impulses of greed and destruction brought down on the world by those others who persistently ignore its presence in the sky in the mistaken belief they are above and beyond the influence of its reach.
Like Salome, native America will also dance them to their death.
“Untoward Stories: Keela, the Outcast Indian Maiden / Eudora Welty” by M.E. McMullen
Tuzuru These journeys also gave her the opportunity to engage in storytelling, a communal activity with specific rhetorical strategies that her texts foreground. He leads Max and the reader through his three months with the show, and we soon understand that the abuse of chickens for the gaping amusement of county fair bumpkins is maideen the beginning of the debasement. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here There is no mention that he is a great father but neither is there any reason for the reader to consider him anything but a typical American father of relative success. At the same time she was very subtly commenting upon the symbolic place of women and racial minorities in Southern life.
KEELA THE OUTCAST INDIAN MAIDEN PDF
Diana V. Furthermore, it examines strategies of storytelling that unveil the subtle but pervasive naturalization of oppression in the politics of daily life. In the United States, the economic crisis of the 30s, triggered by the stock market crash of , after a decade of overproduction, and worsened by the effects of the Dust Bowl, led to a national identity crisis. On the political level, the reforms of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration went hand in hand with a rise in racism expressed in the South by the Ku Klux Klan and increased left-wing militancy. Simultaneously, both literature and the visual arts questioned the parameters of American identity and the role of the individual in the national mythic narratives, providing the troubling vision of a society caught up in its own contradictions Ramalho
‘Keela, The Outcast Indian Maiden’ by Eudora Welty