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A Visit of Charity by Eudora Welty Essay

Irony is the use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning. Eudora Welty successfully uses this literary technique to elucidate the theme of the story, “A Visit of Charity”.

The title “A Visit of Charity” is rather ironic. Charity means to show kindness and sympathy towards others; however, no one in this story does such a thing. There are no charity from Marian’s, the nurse’s, the two old ladies, and the whole society’s point of view. How can there be charity when the old ladies are isolated from the society.

In the story, Marian, “a young Campfire girl”, sets out a visit to the Old Lady House. She wears “a red coat and her straight yellow hair is hanging down loose from the pointed white cap all the little girls are wearing this year.” This suggests us that she is not a self-conscious individual. She pays the visit for unquestioning duty since all other campfire girls do so. Her motive is also for the points, which reward on her project. The author also gives way to Marian’s selfish nature when she states to the nurse that “I have to pay a visit to some old lady.” She shows little respect in the way she phrases her statement. By saying she has to pay a visit reinforces us think that she is there not of her own free will. She does not care who she visits, just as long as the person is an elderly woman.

Another irony is used to help explaining the theme of the story as Marian enters the old ladies’ room. When Marian looks around the room, she feels like “being caught in a robber’s cave, just before being murdered.” She thinks the old ladies are robbers who are trying to steal her perception of the world; however, do they really steal Marian’s view of world? No, I think Marian gets fear because the old ladies give her a broader and truer sense of the reality, which she is reluctant to accept.


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