Tuesday, January 19, 2010

a woman's guide to raising a family

Her full face was not soft; it was controlled, kindly.

Her hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a high calm and a superhuman understanding.

She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken.

And since Old Tom and the children could not know hurt of fear unless she acknowledged hurt and fear, she had practiced denying them in herself.

And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.

But better than joy was calm.

Imperturbability could be depended upon. And from her great and humble position in the family she had taken dignity and a clean, calm beauty.

From her position as healer, her hands had grown sure and cool and quiet; from her position as arbiter she had become as remote and faultless in judgment as a goddess.

She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever really deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the family will to function would be gone.

text: quoted from Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath
images: from Eudora Welty's Depression Era collection


  1. Hmm... thought provoking here: "And since Old Tom & the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt & fear, she had practiced denying them in herself."

    Isn't that what parents want to protect children from as much as possible...& yet they need to learn how to deal w/ those feelings themselves.

    Sometimes I wonder just how much to tell our kids in the most difficult of times. I'm not very good at hiding my emotions. Perhaps that's why I tend to be very open/honest with my children so much of the time...perhaps to a fault sometimes - but nonetheless, it takes a very strong person to not acknowlege hurt and/or fear on a consistent basis.

  2. You've put together a beautiful montage here. Eudora's photos so perfectly fit the words from Steinbeck. Great job! and a terrific subject.
    She was an absolutely fascinating woman. (And you know that I place strong women in high esteem) I am so taken in by the insight in her photographs, and am amazed of her decision to stop one skill for another pursuit. Of course, her writings are also excellent.
    I am enjoying listening to the linked recordings of Eudora Welty reading her works, and plan on a train ride to see the exhibition described in the NYT article in the next week or two.
    Thank you for this post. You've given me another subject to explore.

  3. Fabulous illustration to a fantastic piece of writing...moving and poignant...thanks, SL...Beautifully done.

  4. 4 Bushel Farmgal~ I certainly hope to hear about that trip! I need to go listen to those recording myself. I wrote a research paper in college on Eudora and her work (both writing and photographs? Subject was "imagery." I saw one of her photogaphy exhibits that oddly enough visited Columbus, Georgia's art museum! They get lucky sometimes with exhitbis coming through Atlanta...

    Hindsfeet~ Thank you! Always such kind words!

    MyStory~ You've made me think AGAIN! I love it! You're so right. Reticence is NOT always the best thing to teach your kids, I'm sure. I just latched onto the "control" this character possesses over herself and how that brings a calm guidance to those around her.... I show almost every emotion I feel, so this sort of character would take me ages to build, if it could ever even be accomplished! I think it would balance to read this passage from time to time in order to remind myself that SHOWING too much emotion at times intensifies the setting.

    And as for children needing to learn how to deal? Most definitely. You are so right.

    Thanks for the comments everyone! I love getting your feedback.

  5. a glorious collaboration SL. I think you may have something here. Beautiful choice of photos and text. I found this to be a shock to learn that such poignant words could come from one of the books I disliked the most in reading. Somehow you have breathed new life into the words and photos (which I have always adored) and make me want to give Grapes of Wrath another stab.

    You always uplift. Thanks.

  6. You should! I hated it when I first read it, too, but have found SO Much in it this time around...


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