A Piece of News by Eudora Welty
In A Piece of News by Eudora Welty we have theme of identity, isolation, desire, control, connection, escape and paralysis. Taken from her The Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Welty may be exploring the theme of isolation. Ruby is isolated from the world with her only company being Clyde. Their marriage is also an unhealthy one with Clyde frequently beating Ruby who occasionally leaves Clyde but inevitably returns to him. This may be significant as it is possible that Ruby longs for or desires to be connected to Clyde in a meaningful and loving way. For their relationship to prosper as other marriages might prosper. However it is clear to the reader that Clyde exerts too much negative influence or control over Ruby for their marriage to be every considered normal or progressive. Though it is noticeable that the newspaper article does briefly connect Ruby and Clyde. That is till Clyde realises it is a case of mistaken identity and burns the newspaper. The fact that Ruby fantasises about Clyde killing her and then preparing her for her funeral is also interesting as Welty could be highlighting Ruby’s need to escape from the situation she finds herself in. Also Ruby may realise that she will probably only be loved by Clyde when she dies.
It is also possible that Ruby lacks the confidence to leave Clyde altogether. It may also be a case that Ruby has nowhere else to go and is reliant on Clyde to provide for her. If anything Ruby may accept the conditions she finds herself in simply because she has nowhere else to go. Welty does not mention Ruby having any family or friends that she can stay with. It is also interesting that when Clyde demands his dinner on his return. Ruby is obedient and has his dinner prepared. This too may be important as it highlights further just how much influence or control Clyde has over Ruby. It is also clear to the reader that Ruby has needs and wants and that none of them are being met by Clyde. If anything Ruby knows who she is and how she would like her marriage to Clyde to progress. Simply Ruby is looking for Clyde to focus on her that little bit more. To give her the attention she feels she deserves.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which is important. The newspaper represents not only excitement for Ruby because she thinks her name has been mentioned but it also serves to confuse Ruby. Clyde’s gun may symbolically represent the power or control that Clyde exerts over Ruby. It is noticeable that the gun remains by Clyde’s side throughout the story. Possibly due to his own insecurities and his desire to isolate himself and protect himself from the outside world. The fantasy that Ruby has about her death and Clyde taking care of her may symbolise the strong need within Ruby to be loved by Clyde. Also the whiskey still which Clyde appears to pay more attention to than he does to Ruby may represent what Clyde’s priorities are in life. He appears to have a set routine and nothing must change. Which may leave some readers to suggest that Clyde is symbolically paralysed and may never change. Leaving Ruby to continue living her life without her needs or wants been met. In many ways Ruby is a prisoner to not only her environment but also to her way of thinking. She is attempting to control a man who will not give up the control he has over her.
The end of the story is also interesting as Ruby’s moment of glory or the moment the spotlight was placed on her disappears. When Clyde tells Ruby that it was another Ruby Fisher that was being mentioned in the paper. Just as the newspaper is burnt in the fire. Symbolically so too are Ruby’s fantasies. What is also interesting about Ruby’s fantasy of being shot and buried by Clyde is the fact that she is the victim in her fantasies. This could be important as Ruby may have reached a stage in her life in whereby the only thing she has to look forward to is her death. She may hope that Clyde is going to change. However the reality may be very different but as a release from the pain she feels Ruby imagines Clyde burying her as being an act of love. Which may leave some critics to suggest that Ruby’s relationship with Clyde is unhealthy for Ruby. If anything she needs to think of herself and not about Clyde. Though again she does not have anywhere to go. If anything Ruby is as paralysed as Clyde.