“In “Livvie,” she uses light to symbolize the main character’s freedom from her long imprisonment. Previously, Livvie was forbidden to go outside into the new spring fields and work in the sun with the tenants. Freed from these constraints by Solomon’s illness, she meets Gash McCord, the “transformed field hand” who embodies the color and light of spring in his “leaf-green” coat and “emerald green” hat “blowing in the spring winds”” (Claxton, 2005, p.79)
Eudora Welty is a writer who has transcended confinements of genre, and Livvie is a good example of this. In the story, we find traces of the feminist narrative, class consciousness, religious sentiments, allusions to slavery, etc. Hence, as with the rich detailing witnessed in her photographs, the story can be looked at through various prisms. And such complex thematic layering of the narrative structure adds rather than detracts from the aesthetic merits of the work. (Allen, 1999, p.35) In other words, in Livvie, “Welty writes one central narrative with several other narratives contained within the larger structure, a kind of palimpsest with narratives underneath and surrounding the main text. At times, these other narratives threaten the order of the main story with their complexity and ambiguity, but they also contribute to its color and richness.” (Claxton, 2005, p.79)
The author brings the story to a novel conclusion. Solomon’s death serves as a denouement to the plot. At this juncture, rather than portraying Livvie’s condition as one of deprived and bereaved, the author associates Livvie with a flowering peach tree. Instead of oppressing her, Solomon’s death actually liberates Livvie at several levels. For example, Livvie is at last free to explore the outside world, unrestricted by any barriers of tradition. But the newly found freedom brings with it dangers and risks. On balance though, she is set free to discover the subtleties, conflicts and ambiguities of life, as opposed to the illusion of safety provided under Solomon’s charge. Such an assessment makes the informed reader reminisce about another female writer from the South – Kate Chopin. Chopin’s short stories such as The Story of an Hour and The Storm deal with inherent counter-tendencies in a domestic marital setting. The conclusion to the story Livvie is particularly striking in its re-exploration of the feminist theme first articulated by Chopin. But Welty and Chopin lived in different centuries and the socio-political experience of the two authors are quite different. Hence, although the theme is similar, its application and contexts are quite different. (Allen, 1999, p.35)
Marrs, Suzanne. Eudora Welty: A Biography. New York: Harcourt, 2005.
Allen, Brooke A Universal Region: The Fiction of Eudora Welty. New Criterion. Volume: 18. Issue: 2. October 1999. Page Number: 35.
Mae Miller Claxton, Eudora Welty’s “Livvie” and the Visual Arts, The Mississippi Quarterly. Volume: 59. Issue: 1-2. Published in 2005. Page Number: 77+.