The Ponder Heart

Themes Within "The Ponder Heart" by Eudora Welty

Flannery O’Connor once said: “Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.” In the brilliant novella <i>The Ponder Heart</i>, fellow great twentieth-century Southern writer Eudora Welty’s central character of Uncle Daniel Ponder is undeniably a “freak” in the sense that he stands out within the society of his small Mississippi town. No one in the prestigious Ponder family knows quite what to do with him. Uncle Daniel is a lovable simpleton given to recklessly gifting the family possessions to friends and strangers alike. He has no understanding of how to behave within the simple, structured society of Clay, Mississippi, and as a result his actions disrupt the town’s whole way of life, though everyone enjoys his pure-hearted company and innocent nature.

This story is told in the form of a humorous front-porch monologue as narrated by Daniel’s niece, Miss Edna Earle Ponder. Although younger than her uncle in years, Edna Earle is an intelligent and capable lady who acts as his guardian angel. Besides running the Beulah Hotel in town -- which Uncle Daniel himself gifted to her -- Edna Earle’s deep, protective...

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