Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. W. D. Taylor

Second Advisor

Dr. Lynn C. Dickerson


Eudora Welty's novels of Southern women and ritual reveal her desire to convey a woman's world and to imbue it with a prelapsarian power of feminine self-knowledge. To create this world, Welty draws upon the mythological signifiers of Demeter, Persephone, and Hecate. Utilizing natural imagery of food and flowers, Welty develops a fecund, spring-like landscape and explores the relationship between character, author, and myth. What begins in Delta Wedding as a search to reaffirm the existence of a world spirit concludes in The Optimist's Daughter as a triumphant rebirth of the feminine spirit. Laurel McKelva Hand, unlike her predecessor Laura McRaven, is no longer confined by a patriarchal system of self-definition; she is able to move freely between the boundaries of time and place and assume control of her own destiny.