Narrator and her Relationships with Sister
The first paragraph of Why I Live at the P.O. presents the reader with the narrator’s evaluation of relationships with her sister (Stella-Rondo). The narrator appears to be female having good relationships with her elders (Mama, Papa-Daddy and Uncle Rondo). The relationships between sisters appear to be somewhat strained, as it is immediately explained that narrator’s sister made Mr. Whitaker break up with her. Mr. Whitaker is a newcomer in the city which is described in the story, and he firstly takes notice of one sister, then breaks up with her and switches to Stella-Rondo. Therefore, there is obviously a conflict between the narrator and her sister. The tone of the paragraph indicates that the narrator is irritated by something. Thus, the tone could be described as frustrated or upset.
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Protagonist and Antagonist
While reading the story, one can immediately notice how the narrator’s sister is counterposed to her. Stella-Rondo is trying her best to turn everybody in the house against the narrator which leads the reader to assuming that she is the antagonist of this story. In turn, Stella-Rondo’s sister is the protagonist of the story, as she is trying her best not to lose temper and does not even try to rightfully accuse her sister of lying (Welty, 1941, p. 6-7). This point is further supported by the fact that the narrator does not attempt to turn everybody against her sister in retort.
Reliability of the Narrator
Of course, the reliability of any narrator could be mistrusted because of various reasons, especially since the narrator of this story “draws her own conclusion and will continue in the future to draw them” (Welty, 1941, p. 9). However, the narrator or her story does not indicate that anything went wrong until Stella-Rondo came to the house. Thus, the narrator is almost definitely reliable. The only thing that may call into question her presentation of the story is the fact that she considers her sister always to get what she wanted from her parents or other people. This may lead the reader to assuming that she tends to bias her story.
Family values can be regarded from different points of view. Nevertheless, they have a standard definition as well; family values are a certain number of traditions, beliefs, culture features that exist in any family and are passed down from generation to generation. The family portrayed in the story probably does not show the best example of family values because of their inability to accept the narrator’s perspective. While this side of the question is described poorly in the story, it is evident that there are certain traditions and rules in this family. Based on these scattered portrayals, the values of the family could include care for the offspring, respect towards the elderly, unity and probably patriarchy.
Moving into the P.O.
Although sister’s decision to go to P.O. could be considered as a weakness and cowardice, I take it for an act of demonstrating willpower and pride. More importantly, this decision came as an easy one, and it did not take much effort for the protagonist to leave. After all, she was trapped in a house where nobody trusted her and her sister tried to do her best to make everybody think of the narrator as malicious and envious. Her actions are further justified by the fact that she found her peace and would never get to bother anybody again or even provide them with an opportunity to think she does.
Welty, Eudora. (1941) A Curtain of Green. Garden City, New York, NY: Doubleday, Doran.