Why I Live at the P.O. Essay

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Much of the surprisingly limited scholarly attention accorded this most popular of Welty's stories focuses on certain questions readers repeatedly ask. "Is Sister insane?" ranks as an inquiry that surfaced early and has remained a lively source of discussion. Katherine Anne Porter, in her noted introduction to the 1941 edition of A Curtain of Green, initiated the debate by nonchalantly remarking that "the heroine of 'Why I Live at the P.O.' is a terrifying case of dementia praecox." While some commentators, such as Drake (1960) and Herrscher (1965), directly challenge Porter's assessment of Sister's sanity, others, like Ruth Vande Kieft, build their interpretations around the assumption that Sister acts "with the insane logic of the paranoid" (1962). It is not until 1982 that Vande Kieft retracts this early assumption, when she labels the diagnosis of "paranoic schizophrenia" as "the Ur-blooper of Welty criticism."

Presumably, it is Welty's own response to...

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This section contains 2,199 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Why I Live at the P.O. Study Guide
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