Women in community : the influence of sorority on Eudora Welty and Zelda Fitzgerald.


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Eudora Welty’s carefully cultivated community of literary mentors and contemporaries has been well documented. Not only do these relationships garner Welty a wide array of literary comparisons, they show that she as a writer and reader made it a priority to build long lasting relationships with other writers, critics, editors, and literary minds. Another woman that will go down in literary history, not for what she wrote but for what was written about her, is Zelda Fitzgerald. Historians, biographers, and critics have long mined the figure of Fitzgerald in the service of understanding the life of her glamorous literary husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Even though Fitzgerald had access to some of the most outstanding literary minds of her time, by the end of her life her literary aspirations had gone largely unrealized and she died isolated. The distance of time, age, style, personality, marital status, and geography may seem to separate these two women. Yet, reading Zelda Fitzgerald’s Save Me the Waltz together with Eudora Welty’s Losing Battles a pattern of identity and community emerges. This project examines the effect of feminine community in four different contexts. First, I look at the presence of feminine community in Losing Battles and explore its effects on individual characters as well as its overall beneficial function in the context of the novel. In contrast to this depiction of dynamic feminine community, I assess the negative effect that community absence has on the main female character of Save Me the Waltz, Alabama Beggs. I pair the examinations of these fictional communities with an inspection of the corresponding role of community in the life of both authors. I argue that the constructive presence of community in Eudora Welty’s professional and personal life directly contrasts with the deleterious effects of isolation and negligence in the creative life of Zelda Fitzgerald. By drawing a correlation between the effects of supportive community in the individual lives of these two women authors and the depiction of community in their fiction, I explore the positive role of community in the development of a vibrant canon of women writers.



Eudora Welty. Zelda Fitzgerald. Losing battles. Save me the waltz. Community. Women.