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WELTY at 100
"One picture, One vision": comments on some Welty photographs

“Window Shopping, Granada, 1930s”

Photographs, p. 16
Mae Claxton

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“Window Shopping, Granada, 1930s,” Photographs, p. 16, with the gracious permission of the Eudora Welty Foundation

1An African American woman, dressed in her Saturday go-to-town-best, stands outside a store window, chin in hand, contemplating the contents in the window. The image is reflective and thoughtful. What is she thinking? And what lies beyond the frame of this photograph? In Mississippi in the 1930s, could she walk into this store, perhaps try on clothes or hats, and make a purchase? If she were welcomed in this store, would she have the means to buy the merchandise? The woman is separated from the contents of the store window by the large plate glass of segregation.

2As in most of her photographs, Welty captures an artistic moment in this image, but the reality of the world outside the frame of the photograph is always present. In this instance, Welty raises questions about this woman as a consumer. How is her ability to buy a mark of freedom conveying access to the American dream? Grace Elizabeth Hale states in her book Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940 that shopping and segregation were uneasily intertwined. Department stores, like railroad cars and movie theaters, were “muddled middle” spaces where segregation remained vulnerable, “neither public nor private, neither black nor white” (9). It was in these “muddled middle” spaces that middle class African Americans chose to shop. While whites and blacks might be separated in schools, churches, restaurants, and other spaces, the ritual of Saturday shopping “belonged to all southerners” (Hale 182). Welty captures this “muddled middle” of a Mississippi small town on Saturday in the group of white men just down the street from the African American woman gazing in the shop window.

American Dreams in Mississippi: Consumers, Poverty, & CultureOne Time, One Placeand
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List of illustrations

Caption “Window Shopping, Granada, 1930s,” Photographs, p. 16, with the gracious permission of the Eudora Welty Foundation
URL http://journals.openedition.org/transatlantica/docannexe/image/4694/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 368k
URL http://journals.openedition.org/transatlantica/docannexe/image/4694/img-2.png
File image/png, 159 octets
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References

Electronic reference

Mae Claxton, « “Window Shopping, Granada, 1930s” », Transatlantica [Online], 2 | 2009, Online since 02 February 2010, connection on 18 August 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/transatlantica/4694

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About the author

Mae Claxton

Western Carolina University

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Copyright

Licence Creative Commons
Transatlantica – Revue d'études américaines est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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