In this story, we meet Jenny, who is violated, ruined, etc, etc, by a young man named Billy Floyd who is only passing through and for whom she feels a great and mysterious love.  Everything happens around the time of her grandfather’s death, which serves to heighten the poignancy of the story.  Like all else Welty, however, the real draw is in the language—the absolute lyricism, the pure, sharp insight into the human spirit.

 

Consider this passage:

 

She walked in the woods and around the graves in it, and knew about love, how it would have a different story in the world if it could lose the moral knowledge of a mystery that is in the other heart.  Nothing in Floyd frightened her that drew her near, but at once she had the knowledge come to her that a fragile mystery was in everyone and in herself, since there it was in Floyd, and that whatever she did, she would be bound to ride over and hurt, and the secrecy of life was the terror of it.

 

Jenny hangs on to this deep thoughtfulness about her love despite Billy Floyd never showing much in the way of consideration for her.  When he moves on, she follows him after a time.  The story ends with her waiting for him, a smile on her face the likes of which make children ask if she is dead.  No doubt nothing good can came from that.  I’m not sure Jenny will be deterred either way.  She seems willing enough to love with no encouragement or assurance.  She seems pulled that strongly toward the mystery of it all.

 

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