Eudore Welty ‘s The Ponder Heart ( 1954 ) has been read as a cosmic re-enactment of the Dionysian-Apollonian struggle. In this analysis, Uncle Daniel is seen as the admirable centre of the work, the Dionysian life force, engaged in a battle with his niece Edna Earle, the “ amusing and hapless ” Apollonian advocator of order, ground, self-denial and society ‘s values. However, while there is something in Wetty ‘s narrative of Dionysus and Apollo ‘s old conflict, the battlers are other than this reading suggests.
The representative of the side of ground really turns out to be non Edna Earle, but Grandpa Ponder and as a life force Uncle Daniel turns out to be queerly exanimate. The values suggested by the work are besides non as they foremost appear: what has been viewed as Uncle Daniel ‘s admirable Dionysianism. And the result of the conflict is other than has been suggested: Edna Earle emerges non as the nagging advocate of the old, orderly, rational ways, but as the life-engaged, dynamic balancer of ground and feeling, either of which in isolation is lifelessly to humanness.
From their utmost places, both Grandpa and Uncle Daniel attack life dualistically, as an either-or proposition, moving, in Jung ‘s words “ as if we were simplex and non duplex ” . Not at all the inactive character she has been taken to be, Edna Earle does non so much blend the two extremes of ground and feeling as perform a breathtaking-both because it is admirable and exhausting-balancing act, now uniting the two attacks, now running between the two sides ( both literally and figuratively ) .
She has no safety in retreat to one place, but is invariably at hazard from both. Because of this, in Welty ‘s strategy, while ever vulnerable and frequently in mistake, she has invariably the potency for growing and for extension of her humanity.
Welty gives one a wide ocular intimation that one of the subjects of The Ponder Heart is accomplishment of a synthesis of reverses ( and engagement in life ‘s complexnesss ) in the coat-of-arms painted for the Ponder household by Eva Sistrunk and hung up over the clock. Hiting upon the wordplay pool +deer, Eva came up with a device having three cervid, in honor of the lasting Ponders. The dear/deer/hart/heart is a victory of round wordplay, echoed in Edna Earle ‘s frequent exclaiming of “ beloved bosom! ” when she is speaking to Uncle Daniel. If Eva gave the Harts the usual heraldic arrangement for threes of one-over-two or two-over-one, she besides gave the perfect image of the thesis-antithesis-synthesis form that underlies the work. The reader ‘s occupation is to find which H ( vitamin E ) art represents the synthesis.
The first sentence of the work establishes one of the extremes between which Edna Earle moves: “ My Uncle Daniel ‘s merely like your uncle, if you ‘ve got one-only he has one failing. He loves society and gets carried off ” ( PH 7 ) . Two paragraphs subsequently Edna Earle introduces the 2nd pole: “ Grandpa Ponder ( in his grave now ) might hold any all right twenty-four hours waked up to happen himself in excessively reasonably a hole to acquire out of, but he had excessively much character ” ( PH 8 ) . That in her vocabulary “ character ” suggests emotionless autonomy is made clear when Edna Earle says that Grandpa “ regarded acquiring married as a show of failing of character ” ( PH 26 ) . Edna Earle lays out the motive of extremes in geographical footings and introduces the thought of a equilibrating in-between point associated with herself when she gives advice to Uncle Daniel after he “ gave the miss at the bank a trip to Lookout Mountain and Rock City Cave, and so was traveling along with her to watch her enjoy both ” . She Cajoles Daniel ( on leave from the mental infirmary in Jackson to which Grandpa had committed him ) : “ Dear bosom, I know the refuge ‘s no topographic point for you, but neither is the top of a existent high mountain or a cave in the cold dark land. Here ‘s the topographic point ” ( PH 26 ) . The topographic point she means is the Beulah Hotel that she manages. Topographically in between the cave and the mountain, it is a point of balance sociologically every bit good. At one extreme off from the Beulah is the broad universe where the drug salesman, Mr. Springer, roams ( “ I told Mr. Springer at the clip, about rolling excessively far from where you ‘re known and all-having excessively broad a district ” ( PH20 ) ) and where Grandpa is locked up in the refuge alternatively of Uncle Daniel because no 1 knows his name. Out there are excessively many people, non a community, but a pudding stone.
Metaphorically on the other side of the Beulah and its shadowy mirror ( “ about precisely the same size, “ but with no metropolis visible radiations ( PH54 ) is the Ponder topographic point, Grandpa Ponder ‘s farm, “ stat mis from anyplace ” ( PH44 ) . It is the externalisation of Grandpa ‘s character. He chose the stray scene because he “ detested ” society ( PH 12 ) ; the brow location, because, necessitating ever to cognize, to be in control, he wanted to “ see all around him and if anybody was coming ” ( PH 43 ) . Even his aesthetics is based on competition instead than feeling: he crams his house with furniture, trims it intricately, pigments it “ bright as a railway station ” – “ Anything to surpass the Beulah Hotel ” ( PH 44 ) . The really hoot-owls make fulling his forests create the image of a adult male of ground unbreachably surrounded by Athena ‘s birds. And the roof of his house he “ sprinkled… with lightning rods the manner Grandma would scatter coconut on a bar ” ( PH 44 ) . In Wetty ‘s moral strategy, Grandpa was likely justified in fearing Eden ‘s rage. That the spinous metallic defenders against bolts of visible radiation from above were subsequently transferred to the courthouse, that other venue of rational order ( and simplistic, unenlightened opinion ) , makes her joke even funnier.
The complexness of Wetty ‘s merriment here is heightened by our acknowledging Grandma Ponder ‘s function. When Edna Earle says that her grandparents were “ equally matched ” ( PH 44 ) , the metaphor that is every bit applicable to value battles and to monetary values of tartan or squads of animate beings conveys both the struggle and the dynamic harmoniousness of their relationship, a harmoniousness that comes from the tenseness between antonyms, non from the conquering of one antonym by the other. Grandma ‘s forte was coconut bar ( Sweets made for sharing ) , non lightning rods, which she “ ne’er could stand ” ( PH 118 ) . While about every bit smart as Grandpa, Grandma loved people ( being “ in the midst of things ” ) every bit good ( PH 67 ) . She was, so, Edna Earle ‘s predecessor as a uniter of extremes. And her topographic point was the Beulah hotel.
The name “ Beulah ” absolutely evokes the thought of harmoniously linked antonyms, connoting as it does the brotherhood of the earthly and the celestial. In spirituals Beulah land was another word for Eden ; in Pilgrim ‘s Advancement it was the heavenly ante-chamber, but in the Old Testament it was merely a name for the earthly Israel or Jerusalem, literally intending “ married ” ( to God ) . The Beulah Hotel is the symbol of the matrimony of antonyms, seen foremost in Grandma and so in Edna Earle, the Beulah ‘s present proprietor: non the beatific flawlessness of Uncle Daniel or the dark, even comically diabolic misanthropy of Grandpa but, but the best that worlds can trust for. This cosmic, secular Eden sits “ right in the bosom of clay ” ( PH 13 ) – the perfect name for the state and for the Beulah ‘s place at the symbolic bosom of clay-made world. It is one of Wetty ‘s many points of intersection between the higher and lower kingdoms, threatened invariably by both, unfastened ever to energy from either. In the Beulah Hotel, “ life goes on all sides ” ( PH 66 ) .
Grandpa, nevertheless, preferable life to come at him from one side merely. Plato, the Stoics, Descartes, even Freud might hold commended Grandpa as one in whom Reason ruled as the imperial governor. Jung would probably hold judged that he suffered from dictatorship of the left hemisphere. Wetty signals her understanding with the latter opinion by doing Grandpa comedian in his stiff attachment to one portion of the truth as if it were the whole. He is amusing, non evil, of class, loving his boy plenty to convey him to town each Saturday in malice of his ain hate of society, praying over Daniel for old ages before perpetrating him to Jackson. He merely is wholly baffled by Daniel, because each lives at a different pole of the human universe. A muser worthy of his household name, Grandpa ‘s concern is the “ kingdom of ground ” ( PH 14 ) . His attack to people is as mathematical ( he wants them “ to mensurate up ” ( PH 8 ) ) as his pick of interests ( dominoes, that game of add-on ) . While Edna Earle delectations in Uncle Daniel ‘s exuberant narratives of life in the refuge, declaring, “ It did n’t count if you did n’t cognize the people… ” ( PH 16 ) , Grandpa ‘s response is that of the rational newsman hungry merely for facts: “ Who? -What, Daniel? -When? ” ( PH 17 ) .
Even in affairs of the bosom, Grandpa is all head. An anti-Eros, he sounds a batch like a amusing version of Miss Sabina of Wetty ‘s “ Asphodel ” : “ Grandpa would be a batch more willing to stalk up on a nuptials and halt it, than to promote one to travel on, yours, mine, or the Queen of Sheba ‘s ( PH 26 ) . When he decides that Uncle Daniel should get married, it is non a grant to love or to passion, but presumptively to smother his boy ‘s feelings and command his developing involvement in the other sex, demonstrated in Daniel ‘s attractive force to the “ misss ” in the Escapade side-show, with “ their come-on dance ” ( PH 23 ) . Then merely after “ debating ” does Grandpa “ come to ( the ) decision ” that he will hold to “ fork up a good married woman ” ( PH 24 ) . ( That the married woman turns out to be Teacake Magee completes the nice gastronomic objectification ) .
However, even that strategy does n’t win in commanding Daniel-and, like the Freudian Superego, Grandpa is obsessed with the demand for control, particularly control of forces that slap of the undisciplined Id. Underscoring the appendage of Grandpa ‘s response, Edna Earle says that he goes “ excessively far with subject ” ( PH 36 ) . Using the linguistic communication of the sensible school maestro, Sam Ponder puts his boy in the insane asylum- “ to learn ( him ) a lesson ” ( PH 14 ) . Grandpa ‘s impermanent parturiency, because of misguided individuality, in the same refuge ( reserved for those non able to work in society ) implies the failing of both Grandpa ‘s and Uncle Daniel ‘s relation tot he universe.
On the twenty-four hours Grandpa is led off into the refuge, go forthing ground temporarily in suspension, Uncle Daniel marries Bonnie Dee Peacock. Learning of the matrimony, Grandpa dies non because of the Ponder bosom ( as Edna Earle originally thinks ) , but, harmonizing to the physician, because of a popped blood vas ( a shot ) ; that is, a failure in his caput. However, both Edna Earle ‘s and Dr. Ewbanks ‘ diagnosings were metaphorically right. All Grandpa ‘s rational systems had eventually broken down in the face of Daniel ‘s wholly irrational matrimony to the small clerk he had met at Woolworth ‘s that day-and his bosom had been excessively weak to get by when his head had failed.
Edna Earle says it is the Ponder caput that is distinctive- ” big of class ” ( PH 11 ) . But she exclaims every bit over “ the Ponder bosom ” ( PH 24 ) . The conflict of the extremes is, of class, at work ( for drama ) in these anatomical mentions. While Uncle Daniel ‘s hatsize is tremendous, his mind is pea-sized ; but his bosom is overworked ( “ rushing ” ) Dr. Ewbanks says, as he warns Daniel to “ utilize more opinion ” around here ( PH 61 ) . In both Grandpa and Uncle Daniel, the Ponder Heart of the rubric is in an unhealthy status, Grandpa ‘s weak from neglect ; Daniel ‘s, from overexploitation. Either utmost, Wetty seems to warn with a smiling, is likely to make one in.
The appendage of Daniel ‘s good-heartedness is indicated by his beatific nature. The owner of “ ageless springs ” ( PH 8 ) , he is willing to give away everything he owns. However, merely as an angel would be among the readers, he is incapacitated for life on this in-between plane. He must, literally, he housed, fed, barbered, and transported by others. And, like an angel, he has no Gaffic with the stabs of mortality: “ … he hates sickness and decease… . He ca n’t stay funerals ( PH 41 ) . Having no consciousness of decease, his experience of life is circumscribed. He is excessively pure, excessively unselfconscious, excessively “ immature ” -that is, excessively ungrown. He sufferes excessively small. His bosom of gold truly does non learn ordinary worlds really much. This is no Dionysus. That God ‘s colourss were the green and purple of the vine, which does slice and dice, non the saintly and skittish emptiness of Uncle Daniel ‘s white.
Indeed, outside of comedy, Daniel would dismay. He has no capacity to move, even in order to acquire back the span whose loss he mourns every eventide in narratives. What he does make, Uncle Daniel seems non to be responsible for. Striking one as non a human force, but as a helter-skelter, supernatural urge, he is every bit unmanageable by others-Grandpa, DeYancey, or the Judge weeping, “ Order! ” at his test.
Curiously plenty for one who generates such pandemonium, Uncle Daniel has a childlike demand for order-another challenge to the position that Uncle Daniel is the Dionysian advocator of self-generated life against Edna Earle ‘s compulsion with stasis. In its assorted stages, his life follows stiff forms: the hebdomadal trip to town in the old yearss ; so during Bonnie Dee ‘s absence, the rite of the same repast, the same plaint, the same haunted narrative, dark after dark. Like a kid, he expects stability in people every bit good. Both Bonnie Dee ‘s decease and Edna Earle ‘s self-sacrificial prevarication on the informant base ( to salvage him ) he sees as personal treacheries, misdemeanors of the delicate stableness of his being.
Uncle Daniel makes the readers uncomfortable, excessively, because he is non in touch with mundane world. The Tom Thumb Wedding of his childhood is every bit existent to him as his matrimonies to Teacake Magee and Bonnie Dee. In fact, his equation of the phantasy nuptials with the existent matrimonies gives one a hint to what makes one most uneasy about him. Since he likes everyone and values every event in his life-equally ( he has “ a singular fondness for everybody and everything in creative activity ” , Edna Earle says ( PH 27 ) -he can experience nil with any particular strength. Edna Earle exclaims: “ He loved being happy! He loved felicity like I love tea ” ( PH 14 ) . Indeed.
Actually, Uncle Daniel, the adult male who is thought to be so full of feeling, trivializes experiencing. Daniel likes Elsie Fleming reasonably much the same as he does Bonnie Dee, and he liked Miss. Teacake, too-he merely could non stay the sound of her bobbin heels on the floor. This sort of emotional equalitarianism might at first seem saintly. However, from the human point of position it is grounds of a individual doomed to lose non merely love ‘s strength, but any existent experience of ego or of other. He can non truly love, because Bonnie Dee is ne’er a existent individual in his eyes, a being separate from himself.
As grounds of how extremes have a manner of meeting in Wetty ‘s universe ( in this instance, by demoing their indispensable similarity ) , Daniel objectifies Bonnie Dee much as Grandpa did Teacake when he decided to “ fork her over ” . When Bonnie Dee returns, Daniel crows ; “ oh, my bride has come back to me. Pretty as a image… Edna Earle got her dorsum for me, you all, and Judge Tip Clanahan sewed it up. It ‘s a tribunal order, everybody… . She ‘s perched out at that place on the couch boulder clay I get place tonight. I ‘ll embrace her and snog her and I ‘ll give her 25 dollars in her small manus ” ( PH 62-63 ) . To Uncle Daniel she is ever “ reasonably as a doll ” -or a picture-and that is how he treats her. He wants her at place, while he goes off to the Beulah Hotel, looking for an audience for his narratives about her.
Merely the individual possessed of a ego can acknowledge the independent selfhood of others. Wetty herself made a similar point in a treatment of the relationship between single and household in Losing Battles. In an interview with Charles T. Bunting, Wetty declared: “ … you ca n’t truly conceive of the whole unless you are an individuality. Unless you are really existent in yourself, you do n’t cognize what it means to back up others or to fall in with them or to assist them ” ( 49 ) . Daniel can see others as lone portion of his ain uniform being. He treats Edna Earle every bit liberally as everyone else, giving her the hotel merely as he gave Mr. Springer ‘s brother-in-law ‘s sister a major operation, but in his strategy of things, she exists chiefly for his comfort and protection. He has no sense of what she suffers for him. As Edna Earle says, it would ne’er happen to him that she has a narrative to state excessively.
A farther paradox of Daniel ‘s altruism is that, since he has no independent sense of ego, he can acquire a feeling of selfhood merely from others. From this position, he is perfectly other-directed. When, for illustration, Bonnie Dee ‘s sister, Johnnie Ree, refuses Uncle Daniel ‘s invitation to travel equitation, “ he merely stood still in the bright Sun, like the bar of ice that was runing at that place that twenty-four hours ” ( PH 152 ) . When he can non do people happy-by giving off a auto drive, or his love, or a incubator and brooder, or his stories-and see himself in people ‘s joyous reaction to him, he, in consequence, ceases to be. No uncertainty, this demand accounts for his obsessional giveaway at the terminal of the novel: unable to state his narrative, he begins urgently to disperse his money around, trusting to recover the joy and the selfhood that come when he is created afresh in the thankful eyes of the receivers.
One of the great sarcasms of The Ponder Heart is the black consequence on the rare juncture when Uncle Daniel assumes the function of grownup. Always “ mortally afraid ” of lighting-in fact, this experience of fright is one of his few mortal qualities-Uncle Daniel overcomes his ain fright in order to play “ creep mousie ” , trusting to do Bonnie Dee halt weeping in her panic. For one time he is the grownup, titillating the kid. Why should decease be the effect of Daniel ‘s individual grown-up act? possibly it is a reminder of the grownup ‘s inevitable engagement in mortality. Possibly it suggests the ineluctable clutter of cause and consequence, purpose and duty that the mature individual confronts. Possibly, nevertheless, all one can really reason about this episode is best summarized by Edna Earle: “ May be what ‘s difficult to believe about the truth is who it happens to ” ( PH 143 ) . It does non look just that this should go on to Uncle Daniel, but there it is.
For whatever ground, when Uncle Daniel responds to his married woman ‘s hurt and reaches out from the safety of ain angelic or infantile sanctuary, his program misfires in the worst possible manner. Bonnie Dee dies, and Uncle Daniel retreats one time more into his unmindful ego, ne’er once more, the readers surmise, to take a opportunity at human hazard and human growing. At Bonnie Dee ‘s funeral one hears his return to the old chorus as he tells Mrs. Peacock that her girl is “ reasonably as a doll ” . The fact of Bonnie Dee ‘s decease seems lost on him.
Of class, in the rolicking comedy of The Ponder Heart 1 does non blow many cryings on Bonnie Dee, either. One ground Welty can acquire off with killing Bonnie Dee off is that she has ne’er struck one as being peculiarly alive anyhow. In fact, she is merely about the perfect married woman for Daniel ( after all, she stays married to him for something like seven old ages ) . Like Daniel, she is non to the full human, but for different grounds. In this survey of extremes, Bonnie Dee serves as a male monarch of negative synthesis, missing the dominant qualities of both Grandpa and Uncle Daniel. Certainly none of Grandpa ‘s ground is hers. Bonnie Dee knows how to do alteration and cut hair, but otherwise she does non hold adequate sense to acquire alarmed about. On the other manus ( this sounds like the old gag: she may be stupid, but she certainly is homely ) , she possesses none of Uncle Daniel ‘s afloat feelings for others. On the twenty-four hours of their nuptials, merely a payoff makes her listen to his petition that she acquire out of the auto so he can demo her off.
Her decease from bosom failure neatly balances Grandpa ‘s aneurysm. Gladney may good inquire, “ What makes the bosom fail ” ? ( PH 108 ) , but one has had intimations of the reply all along-and non merely in her shortness of breath. Wheareas Uncle Daniel gives off, she accumulates a lavation machine, apparels, a telephone that ne’er rings. “ … things began to pour into that house ” , Edna Earle says ( PH 67 ) , equilibrating the novel ‘s 2nd paragraph with its run of “ things… [ Uncle Daniel has ] given away ” ( PH 8 ) .
Merely as Uncle Daniel ‘s giving is a mark of his altruism, Bonnie Dee ‘s accretion reveals a similar absence of independent human selfhood. Like Uncle Daniel, excessively, she does n’t cognize how to contend ( PH 49 ) , a accomplishment most worlds get early as grounds of a defined sense of ego and of other. Like him, she ne’er grows, so she ne’er ages. At her decease she still looks 17, merely as on the twenty-four hours of her matrimony.
However, while Uncle Daniel seems cold because he is angelically above the readers, in the overdone imagination of comedy, strikes one as belonging to the kingdom below one. Criticism about ever seems bumbling when it deals with comedy-which should do one aware of its difference from the act it describes. It is of import to remember in analyzing the novel what one can non lose in reading it: that Bonnie Dee is non evil any longer than Grandpa is. She merely ne’er develops past the phase of a kid playing knuckleboness or dress-up with Narciss. ( Her relationship with the symbolically named Narciss tells us that her self-involvement is every bit complete as Daniel ‘s. Narcsis ‘ traveling in the back door of the Beulah while Bonnie Dee and Uncle Daniel go in the forepart completes this spot of double mirrored egotistic imagination ) . Edna Earle makes clear that Bonnie Dee had possible that was non developed when she exclaims about the dead Bonnie Dee: “ When you saw her at that place, it looked like she could hold loved person! ” ( PH 77 ) . Bonnie Dee ‘s seting in a telephone that ne’er rings implies an inchoate desire for connexion with others. However, in the amusing imagination of the novel, she remains less than homo.
A aggregator of “ things ” , she is herself repeatedly described as a small thing, or even less than a thing – a pretty screen for void ( her downy xanthous hair reminds Edna Earle of by ” , holding “ non a grain beneath ” ( PH 34 ) . Other images reiterate here deficiency of human qualities: she is a doll and a image ; she has coon eyes. When Dr. Ewbanks pushes back “ that xanthous fluff, “ he asks, “ You do n’t intend she ‘s flew the henhouse? “ , transforming the dead Bonnie Dee Inachis io into the bird that her last name suggests. Like a cat, she yawns all the clip, ne’er smiling because “ she did n’t cognize how ” ( PH 42 ) . If the human being is defined as the smiling animate being, Bonnie Dee does n’t do the cut-off. When she dies express joying, Edna Earle realizes that her laughter was merely a physiological response, non the consequence of human connection and communicating that a smile represents: “ I could hold shaken her for it. She ‘d ne’er laughed for Uncle Daniel before in her life. And even if she had, that ‘s non the same thing as smile ; you may believe it is, but I do n’t ” ( PH 141 ) .
That Bonnie Dee dies laughing is, of class, the cardinal gag of the book. To analyse any gag is hazardous concern, but in footings of the subject of the integrity of extremes this episode is worth a closer expression. The inquiry of why titillating green goodss laughter has long stumped scientists and pupils of wit likewise. Arthur Koestler ‘s remarks on babes ‘ responses to titillating seem germane to Bonnie Dee ‘s response:
[ A kid ] will express joy only-and this is the Southern Cross of the matter-when it perceives titillating as a mock onslaught, a carress in mildly aggressive camouflage.
The regulation of the game [ with babes ] is: “ Let me be merely a small scared so that I can bask the alleviation ” .
Therefore the tickler is portraying an attacker, but at the same time known non to be one ; this is likely the first state of affairs in life which makes the infant live on two planes at one time… .. ( 125-26 ) .
Possibly it is besides the kid ‘s foretaste of the Janus-faced comedy and horror of life itself. To set it to a great extent, Bonnie Dee shrilling from Uncle Daniel ‘s tickle every bit much as from the thunder-is unable to equilibrate on two planes at one time. She can non see that love can come in the signifier of its evident antonym, aggression. She is incapable of the dual vision that Wetty sees as the footing of a risking, mistaking, turning human life.
It is this vision that Edna Earle has-Edna Earle, who is Bonnie Dee ‘s mirror on the side of positive synthesis. Wetty underscores the mirror relationship between Edna Earle and Bonnie Dee when, on Bonnie Dee ‘s decease, Edna Earle runs into the bathroom to acquire ammonium hydroxide for Uncle Daniel: “ In the bathroom I glanced inthe mirror, to see how I was taking it, and got the fear of my life. Edna Earle, I said, you look every bit old as the hills! It was a different mirror, was the secret-it exaggerated my face by a 1000 times-something Bonnie Dee had sent off for and it had come ” ( PH 142 ) . Mirrors in art and literature often reveal the ego that a individual, Medusa-like, resists facing. Throughout her narrative, Edna Earle has coyly been stamp downing recognition of her age. For illustration, while she is merely somewhat younger than Uncle Daniel – who is “ up in his 1950ss now ” ( PH 11 ) – she speaks of the verse form she is salvaging to demo her grandchildren and bristles when De Yancey calls her “ Ma’am ” ( PH 59, 110 ) . Sing herself every bit old as the hills is a barbarous hit with world.
For the readers, nevertheless, it is grounds of her humanity she does non stand outside of clip as do Bonnie Dee and Uncle Daniel, whose unetched visages tell one that life has barely touched them. Because she genuinely lives-making errors, experiencing choler and defeat, cognizing unrealized love, holding to happen replacements for the love affair she craves – her visual aspect shows it. She has earned her face. She has no ageless springs like the 1s. She attributes to Uncle Daniel, but her declaration that she looks “ every bit old as the hills ” implies her rugged, earthly strength. The spring she does hold is a really human 1: Mr. Ovid Springer – if merely somewhat true to his name, still the frail beginning of her hope for love affair and for a metabolism from the modus operandi of her present life. One feels that deep-down Edna Earle knows that here ground has been dulled by the drug salesman who has courted her all these old ages, but she chooses to hang on anyhow to there dream that someday he will suggest. After a manner, she is her ain spring of hope, giving another punning significance to the pool in her name.
In Edna Earle, the dominant traits of Grandpa and Uncle Daniel meet, in a really fault-filled, but human manner. She is every bit smart as Grandpa ( when she passed Uncle Daniel in the 7th class, people said she ought to be the instructor ) and at times as scientific in her attack to life, ( she echoes Archimedes “ Eureka! ” when she decides that Teacake is the 1 to be forked over to Uncle Daniel ; she “ Keep [ s ] check ” on Bonnie Dee ‘s allowance ( PH 25, 134 ) ‘ she neatly categorizes people, from the “ state ” Dorris Gladney to the “ nice ” household which included a liquidator ( PH 80 ) ) . But, in her, Grandpa ‘s capacity for action and Uncle Daniel ‘s for feeling combine. She can account for the hotel with Grandpa ‘s mathematical truth ( “ twelve sleeping rooms, two bathrooms, two stairwaies, five porches, anteroom, dining room, larder and kitchen… . And two Blacks… . And that works… ” ) and “ still be out here looking reasonably ” , ready to travel siting with Mr. Springer, should he come rupturing through town ( PH 10 ) .
One of the most of import features of Edna Earle ‘s speculation between the extremes represented by Grandpa and Uncle Daniel is the dynamic quality of that mediation. Edna Earle does non stand for a inactive synthesis: a small spot of ground, a small spot of feeling. The brotherhood of antonyms one finds here is like the energy-generating brotherhood of the positive and negative poles of a magnet or battery-balanced as she is between extremes, Edna Earle has created a life non of peace, but of verve. Although she is really making nil but speaking during the narrative of the novel, one pictures her in action-sailing dorsum and Forth between two places, running rummage gross revenues for African missionaries, feeding the crowds from tribunal and high-way. While Uncle Daniel and Grandpa respond to human multiplicity by disregarding it, giving all their commitment to one portion of human nature, Edna Earle does non seek to extinguish either side of her ego. She arrives alternatively at a mutual harmoniousness between the superior intelligence that characterizes Grandpa and the unrestrained feelings of Uncle Daniel. The thought and experiencing one, she is the existent owner of the pondering and heavy bosom of the rubric.
Merely as she has managed to salve strengths from both extremes, she has suffered from both sides, excessively. She asks no 1 to shout for her, as Uncle Daniel does, and she wastes small commiseration on herself. Grandpa and Uncle Daniel both in their ain ways have been the enemies of love affair in Edna Earle ‘s life, but she has managed to carry through her responsibilities while hanging on to the dream at least of love of “ measure [ ping ] off with, say, Mr. Springer ” and pacifying Grandpa by calling the first kid Ponder Springer ( PH 26 ) .
Our laughter is assorted with a sort of esteem for Edna Earle when she says, “ The twenty-four hours I do n’t rate a pinch of some sort from a Clanahan, I ‘ll cognize I ‘m past redemption-an old amah ” ( PH 84 ) . One knows that is exactly what she is, but her ain of all time hopeful attitude will non let one to categorise her this manner. Besides, no simple class like “ old amah ” can incorporate all the humanity that Edna Earle is. If love fails her ( and she does surmise that true love is merely a “ palace in the sky ” ( PH 50 ) ) , she has the flexibleness to see company as a substitute-or may be she will direct her energies toward a chinchilla farm: “ Do n’t believe about it, Edna Earle, I say. So I merely cut out a small ad about a brochure that you send off for, and put it away in a drawer – I forget where ” ( PH 44 ) .
One of the most convincing steps of the high quality of Edna Earle ‘s bosom is her capacity to endure, non merely for ego, but for others excessively. What makes that enduring every bit near to gallantry as the readers are likely to happen in comedy is that it comes from Acts of the Apostless of will, from consciously accepted duty and from rational consciousness of effects. for all his selflessness, Uncle Daniel seems mostly unconscious of the significance of his Acts of the Apostless. Since he places no value on ownerships, his gifts cost him nil. However, because Edna Earle is cognizant of the serious effects of her determination, her willingness to allow Daniel give away all the money that she one twenty-four hours would hold inherited must hold seen as an act of loving bravery.
Her prevarication for Daniel at the test is of the same heart. She says: “ I ne’er lied in my life before, that, I know of, by either stating or keeping back, but I flatter myself that when the clip came, I was equal to either 1 ” ( PH 143 ) . She is equal to life ‘s challenges from whichever one-fourth. And she allows herself to be vulnerable to both extremes: her prevarication exposes her non merely to the punishments of bearing false witness from the jurisprudence ‘s rational side, but besides to the possibility of rejection by the feeling Uncle Daniel, who “ looked at me like he ne’er saw me before in his life ” ( PH 120 ) . What greater step of selflessness can at that place be than this: taking the opportunity that in salvaging a loved one you may lose that love? And Edna Earle is equal even to this.
In a novel with lightning at the centre, Edna Earle, for all her oversights in perceptual experience, is the enlightened 1. Because Grandpa refused to put in electricity, she learned “ to read in the dark ” ( at Uncle Daniel ‘s topographic point she reads “ for the 1000th clip ” the imagistically disposed The House of a Thousand Candles ( 54-56 ) ) . Her perennial ticket line “ Lo and behold ” , predating her descriptions of assorted unexpected events throws the elucidation that sporadically illuminates her life into contrast with Uncle Daniel ‘s imperceptive lampoon and imagistic inversion of the phrase: “ Low-in-the-hole ” .
Her penetrations are far-ranging. In her adulthood, she recognizes that Grandpa ‘s outlook of “ rectifying ” the infantile Uncle Daniel by consigning him to an refuge is itself “ child-foolishness ” ( PH 15, 37 ) . She, non Uncle Daniel, is really the title-holder of a life to the full and freely lived. Whereas Grandpa is suffering without control-of Uncle Daniel or of the heavens-and Uncle Daniel needs the protection of a stiff modus operandi, Edna Earle has learned the self-contradictory power that comes from allowing spell. The Miss Ouida Simpson works that she one time toted yearly to the County Fair competition she now merely leaves entirely ; it still blooms now and so, she says ( PH 10 ) . She has come to a similar attitude towards people:
I do n’t even seek, myself, to do people happy the manner they should be: they ‘re so obstinate. I merely seek to give them what they think they want. Ask me to make you the most bizarre favor tomorrow and I ‘ll make it. Just do n’t come running to me afterwards and inquire how come ( PH 57 ) .
When she violates this principle-as, of class, she is bound to as a mutable human-the consequence can be black. Even though Uncle Daniel seems satisfied with his life at the Beulah after Bonnie Dee throws him out, Edna Earle gives into a annoying scruples that says Uncle Daniel is non happy in the right manner. Convincing Daniel to keep back his married woman ‘s allowance, she starts the concatenation of events taking to Bonnie Dee ‘s decease. Unlike Uncle Daniel, nevertheless, when Edna Earle becomes tangled in the unmanageable effects of human Acts of the Apostless, she does non withdraw from battle in life.
Possibly the most convincing mark of her enlightenment is her ain impression of her place in relation to the poles of this universe. For illustration, Edna Earle has some penetration into her place between Uncle Daniel and Grandpa. She says: “ I ‘ve got to acquire out at that place and stand up for both of them ” ( PH 40 ) . Later, depicting the test, she tells us: “ When person spoke to Uncle Daniel, I tried to reply for him excessively, if I could. I ‘m the mediator, that ‘s what I am, between my household and the universe ” ( PH 120 ) . She is besides the life-filled in-between term between the white-clad, beatific Uncle Daniel and the decease figure Gladney with his black coat, buzzard-like visual aspect, and “ his old bony finger ” ( PH 134 ) .
That Edna Earle is besides secluded to the truth of the happenstance of evident antonyms is seen in her recognition that love itself may look and sound like its really opposite. See her account of Uncle Daniel ‘s message to Bonnie Dee on the twenty-four hours of her decease ( “ I ‘m traveling to kill you dead, Miss Bonnie Dee, if y ‘ do n’t take m ‘ back ” ( PH 91 ) ) . Harmonizing to Edna Earle, the words mean nil “ except love, of class. It ‘s all in a manner of speech production… . seting it into words. With some people, it ‘s small menaces. With others, it ‘s apt to be poems ” ( PH 117 ) . She does non necessitate a big-city linguist to state her that words mean nil separate from context, that the maps are non the district. Edna Earle has besides learned the Concordia discors of fondness and verbal force from her predecessor in harmonising antonyms, Grandma Ponder – “ the gentlest adult female on the face of the Earth ” , who however peppered her “ absolutely normal family ” with menaces of mayhem and slaying ( PH 110-111 ) .
In her ain life, Edna Earle demonstrates the truth of her penetration into love ‘s dual nature, in her response to Bonnie Dee. Like all polar combinations, this excessively seems to withstand ground. Throughout her narrative, Edna Earle has directed nil but depreciation toward Bonnie Dee. Yet it is humanly converting when at the terminal of her narrative, she reveals her fancy for her niece-in-law: “ And you know, Bonnie Dee Peacock, ordinary as she was and test as she was to set up with-she ‘s the sort of individual you do lose. In do n’t cognize why-deliver me from giving you the ground ” ( PH156 ) . Merely when 1 is delivered from ground, do her feelings make sense.
For Mr. Springer she can experience the same tenseness between animadversion and fondness. The undermentioned transition, in fact, begins with a response of the head and ends with the bosom:
Oh, I did good non to do up my head excessively hurriedly about Ovid Springer. I congratulate myself still on that, every dark of the universe. Mr. Springer would non hold hesitated to melanize Uncle Daniel ‘s name before the universe by driving 65 stat mis through the hot Sun and passing him over a motivation on a Ag platter. Tired going adult male if you like-but when it came to a slaying test, he ‘d come running to be in on it… . Of class, he ne’er had anybody to look after him. ( PH 122 ) .
One of the clearest Markss of the functional high quality of Edna Earle ‘s adjustment of the dual poles of her human nature lies in her function as story-teller. Daniel, excessively, is a Teller of narratives, conveying joy to his hearers at the Beulah when he entertained them with the amusing histories about his refuge stay and making a sort of community ritual with his affecting narrative of Bonnie Dee ‘s running off. However, Daniel ‘s job as a originative spirit is his deficiency of self-denial. In story-telling, he feels more intensely than at any other clip. Edna Earle says: “ … I do n’t believe he could convey himself to believe the narrative boulder clay he ‘d heard himself state it once more ” ( PH 51 ) . Fiction-that is, his lived world transmuted by his gift of exaggeration-is more existent than fact for the adult male who has so few ground tackles in daily world. And he experiences his narrative, non as a poet-creator, but as if he were live overing it: “ … it was steadily interrupting his bosom ” ( PH 51 ) . Unable to step back from his narrative to accomplish some kind of objectiveness, he can non finish his act of creative activity: as his “ narrative of suffering ” approaches the portion about Bonnie Dee ‘s farewell note, “ he broke down at the pole of feeling, Daniel can non truly stand for the creative person. As emotion without signifier or subject, he is pure poetic potency.
Edna Earle is the existent story-teller here, the theoretical account of the originative ego. Capable of experiencing deeply, involved in her narrative, she can yet step back plenty to state the narrative. Daniel can non finish. Surely, her control is non perfect: she creates better and other than she knows. But the book itself, the record of her long narrative, is the artifact certifying her ability to transform enduring into art.
Far from being the butt of the comedy in The Ponder Heart, Edna Earle is Welty ‘s amusing presentation of the whole human ego. Speaking of Uncle Daniel ‘s story-telling, Edna Earle exclaims: “ Well, if holding-forth is the best manner you can maintain alive, so do it – if you ‘re non outrageously smart to get down with and do n’t hold things to make ” ( accent added ; PH 70 ) . Feeling ( and making a narrative from those feelings ) , believing, moving. Edna Earle does them all. And her dynamic, switching, experimental combination of the qualities- with no inactive hierarchal ordering-is humanly superior to the stiff control of any one of the extremes. In Welty ‘s universe the flexible bosom of clay will crush the bosom of gold every clip.