The experiences in one’s childhood will shape his future. In the passage of Eudora Welty’s autobiography One Writer’s Beginnings, she recalls one of many childhood experiences that helped flourish her love of reading even further. Her language and selection of detail convey the intensity and value of these experiences. She invests especial attention to experiences involving Mrs. Calloway, her Mother, and herself.
Welty discusses her mother to uncover the intensity and value she recalls from her early reading experiences. She characterizes her mother as “not afraid” and perpetually “reading. ” These traits served as a model for Welty and one can infer the importance of the encouragement to read and support offered by her mother. She gave “[Welty]… her own library card” and “permission to read any book she [wanted]. ” This was imperative to the development of Welty’s taste for reading and certainly valuable to her future.
Welty’s mentioning of her Mother constantly reading and comparing herself “to my mother as severely as to me” (line43-44) is a foreshadowing a becoming of her. Welty’s mother can manage the task of reading and doing other tasks, working, baking etc. while the young Welty, is impulsive about reading “I knew this was bliss, knew it at the time. Taste isn’t nearly so important; it comes in its own time” (line 51-53). Showing in time, as she matures her control over her thirst for knowledge will uphold.
Welty’s mother is not the first to be introduced; she sets the tone “I never knew anyone… without being afraid… of our librarian” (lines 1-2) as intimidating using Calloway as a vehicle for intensity. Welty also adds to the reputation of Mrs. Calloway as daunting as well as the setting in Jackson, Mississippi. Mrs. Calloway was not the warm librarian we normally think of, “her dragon eye on the front door” (line5). Mrs. Calloway is the dragon in every fairy tale, she is the hoarder, the guardian of the prized and beloved treasure; the books.
Welty contrasts the library to the outside world were [Welty] being pure and innocent is to enter the lair of the dragon [The library] “as you came in from the bright outside…” (Line 14) Further reading, Welty addresses a very relatable universal idea with “I was willing; I would do anything to read” (line 31) that is, that She “would do anything to read,” showing her passion for books and also her willingness to trade away “anything. She esteems reading as more valuable than “anything”, a way of thinking that will greatly impact her life. Welty is now remodeled as a “hero” about to fight the “dragon” with her mother as her sword, who ultimately enabled her access to the books. Welty focuses on herself to convey the intensity and value she holds for early reading. To describe reading as “blissful” and “devouring” is to relate the intensity in which she viewed books, in almost an addict kind of way.
Welty’s word choice “severely/fast/rushing” (lines44-55) also add an obsessive and hastiness to the tone. Welty’s attitude toward reading writing is almost expected for being as young as she was. At nine years old, most have an obsessive personality, when someone that young wants something and their demand is granted it, there’s the propensity to want more. “Bunny Brown…/ Twenty thousand Leagues…” are mentioned as some of the books she read. Those books represent a growing maturity.
Bunny Brown represents the present her, youthful, innocent; a child. On the other hand Twenty Thousand Leagues is a considerably more advanced book for some her age, she chose those books to show her growing knowledge at the tender age of nine. She sees that this desire in her childhood to read is intense. It is also clearly seen through the fact that she is receiving no outside pressure to read. All of her avidity and motivation stems from herself.
Through careful diction and selection of detail, Welty reveals the intensity and importance of her early reading experiences that greatly impact her craft. Three key people that played a crucial role in accumulating those experiences were Mrs. Calloway, her mother, and herself. This is not a story about a girl who wants to read just read some books. This is about a young girl who over comes her obstacle for her thirst of knowledge and succeeds allowing her to nurture what will become her greatest crafts, reading and writing.