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The Petrified Man

Essay by   •  December 26, 2011  •  Essay  •  614 Words (3 Pages)  •  2,097 Views

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Eudora Welty makes it clear in the story of the "Petrified Man" that having friends doesn't always mean the connections between them are loyal. Throughout the story, the reader sees women at a beauty parlor constantly gossiping about each other and even though they are all 'friends' they don't sincerely care about each other. On the other hand, they actually don't have anything good to say about each other, which is ironic because they are all at a beauty parlor to make themselves look pretty, yet the things they say make them look ugly. Instead of being a beauty parlor of nice southern girls that all care for each other, the story depicts a representation of a shallow society full of self-centered people who only really care about gossiping, not any genuine friendships.

In my opinion, it is possible to have a loyal friendship in which two people can be able to depend on each other. However, it is not the case in this story. The characters seem to lack real feelings amongst each other. This is seen especially between Mrs. Pike, Leota, and Mrs. Fletcher as they are only focused on themselves, when they are actually supposed to be 'friends'. When Mrs. Fletcher asks Leota about Mrs. Pike, Mrs. Fletcher even stereotypes her without even realizing that she was being judgmental, saying: "...she's from New Orleans. Ever'body in New Orleans believes ever'thing spooky" (Welty).

Mrs. Fletcher and Leota both are automatically perceived as materialistic characters to readers. They are only focused on what they have, not what they feel. For example, when speaking about their husbands, they never seem to go into detail about them, they just have them there to model them, to show that they do have men in their lives even though the women are the ones controlling the men. Even when the subject of Mrs. Fletcher's pregnancy comes up, the pregnancy is just seen as an accessory. Mrs. Fletcher even mentions: "I don't like children that much... I'm almost tempted not to have this one" (Welty). This shows how Mrs. Fletcher only cares about herself; she could care less about even having a baby. With this, one can conclude that real friendships can't be made when the people in the friendships only care about themselves.

In addition, jealousy is seen constantly throughout Welty's story. Unknowingly, all the characters base their lives on material things, therefore it bothers each character to see another doing better than them. All of the women at the beauty parlor are constantly competing with each other. For example, when Mrs. Pikes ends up getting the reward for reporting Mr. Petrie, Leota gets jealous that she wasn't able to get the reward because it was her magazine that had the wanted ad. "So Mrs. Pike gits five hundred dollars. And my magazine, and right next door to my beauty parlor" (Welty). However, Mrs. Pikes and

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