In the beginning, Welty describes Leota's booth with a "lavender shelf" and a "lavender-framed mirror," which emphasizes the purpose of the beauty parlor, as lavender is a symbol of beauty and femininity. Moreover, when Mrs. Fletcher tries to get a cigarette from Leota's purse, she has to slap "her hand down quickly on a powder puff which burst out when the purse was opened," which illustrates that the bag is filled to the brim with beauty items.
Mrs. Fletcher's Hair
While working on Mrs. Fletcher's shampoo and set, Leota "dashed the comb through the hair," which illustrates how swiftly she works. However, this action is contrasted with "pausing dramatically," when Mrs. Fletcher's hair falls out to emphasize that losing hair and therefore losing beauty is a serious matter for the beautician and her customer. The hair, described as "hennaed" to indicate previous beauty treatments, floats out "like a storm cloud," which not only connotes a dark, fluffy shape but also foreshadows the following argument between the two women.
During the argument between Leota and Mrs. Fletcher, Welty creates a comic effect by exaggerating their actions: Leota was "almost choking [Mrs. Fletcher] with the cloth, pinning it so tight, and [Mrs. Fletcher] couldn't speak clearly. She paddled her hands in the air until Leota wearily loosened her." This scene illustrates how the women, in this case Leota, do not just use words to try to harm each other.
Petrified Man Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Petrified Man is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.