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"Why I live at the P.O." Summary, Themes, Symbols and Humor

Why I live at the P.O. Summary by Eudora Welty
The story of "Why I live at the P.O” is written by Eudora Welty who seemed to inspire this story form a dramatic monologue. This story is told the first-person narrator who wants to tell the reader her side of the family quarrel that resulted or made her leaver her family house where she has been raised with her parents.

Summary of “Why I live at the P.O.”:

In the story, she moved to the local post office. She took the reader to her side as she tells the reader about her quarrels with her little sister, who seemed to be successful in making all the family members against her. However, her self-pity as well as exaggeration presents her position unintentionally humorous. Furthermore, although the story seems to be comic, its specific themes seems to be complex as the story appears to indicate the tensions as well as conflict between family affiliation and independence, the truth, as well as the uniqueness of life in the society.

Themes of “Why I live at the P.O.”:

In “Why I Live at the P.O.,” it can be noticed that the main theme of the story can be irreversibility of isolation that she leaves her family house even it is the home where she is raised and grown. She accused her of being inability to talk with her sister. In spite of the great heat, Stella-Rondo makes her bedroom windows to be locked as well as shut. So, the theme of isolation can be applied on to her thus Sister thinks that Papa-Daddy seems deaf that mean that he ignores all people around him, as he may remove himself from the proceedings that he prefers to isolate himself and stays on the hammock in the yard. In case that there seems not to isolate silence, people in the story isolate themselves by miscommunication. It can be appeared that Stella-Rondo tries to convince Papa-Daddy that Sister make a humor of his beard as well as suggested that it may cut off, in case that Sister seems not to make these assertions.

In other words, the theme of family’s isolation seems to be more increased in case that Sister seems to prepare to move from the house and so she decides not to send or receive any mail from her family. In case of the radio that she seems to take with her, the family cut off all contact with the outside world as well as seem to be left her family. It can be noticed that communication is proven to be an unreachable target, thus the family prefers to embrace more isolation. Later in the story, when Sister proclaims that she won’t her and will cover her ears as long as Stella-Rondo attempted to indicate herself, she suggested that this way or method of isolation seem not to reverse itself in addition will be worse.

Symbols in “Why I live at the P.O.”:

One of the symbols in the story can be the radio that represents the contentious communication between the family members and the Sister. It seems to be a pawn in Sister and Stella-Rondo’s struggle in order to have the favored position in the family. in case that Stella-Rondo seemed to break a chain letter from Flanders Field, her uncle Rondo seemed to grab control of the radio from her then he gave it to Sister. It is an incident that Sister is seen as the victory. In addition, in case that the Sister was going to leave the house, she proudly takes advantage of the radio that represents as the human contact when she is going to isolate herself in the post office. In addition, by the radio, she seems to take one tool of communication to her family. Moreover, I think that this removal seems to represent a new low in the family’s connection troubles.

Another symbol can be the post office that represents for the Sister independence as well as entrapment. Moreover, it looks like an escape for Sister where she gets away from her family. It is noticed that her work as postmistress grants her a measure of independence, as well as it seems to give her a place to go to when she decides to leave her family and become isolated. However, it seems not to be a withdrawal that her moving indicates the way she trapped within her family. It can appear in the story when Sister had the position of postmistress due to Papa-Daddy’s impact, thus it is clear that she escape from her family to a place that her family gives to her. In her residence in the post office, she seems to be involved and connected with her family by the use of the radio even it seems far. In addition, she indicates that she’ll never listen to anything that is said by Stella-Rondo. However the more deeply Sister announces her independence and isolation from her family; the more muddy she involves herself to be. Without her family’s quarrel, she seems to have nothing to be fight against. Thus, it is asked that how she identify herself isolated her family.

Humor in “Why I live at the P.O.”:

Humor appeared in the story of “Why I Live at the P.O.,” that is very obvious when Uncle Rondo wears a kimono, as well as Shirley-T., such as her namesake Shirley Temple, sings and dances. Also, Stella-Rondo preserves in humor indicating that Shirley-T as well as Papa-Daddy seems to have a beard that he makes him growing as he seemed fifteen. In addition, Sister herself seems to be comical that her belongings to the post office with the intention of living there is very humor. In the case that she hasn’t the intention to be funny, her dramatic rendering of Stella-Rondo’s returning represents as humorous. 

Also, The cruelty of Sister’s narration, in Which many events seems to be absurd, serious events that make the story seems to be mount through the world where people adhere to their own rules. However, in the beginning of the story, Sister seems to do more than poke humor at her family. It is noticed that Welty uses humor in order to have attention to disturbing truths about her characters’ lives. Also, Sister has the desire to give the impression that she seems not to be affected by the family’s quarrel and attempt to present herself as a victim, free from any complain in the family’s relationships. Her humorous represents as a means of deviating unpleasant facts, a mask that she has the ability to hide beyond to evade to indicate her true feelings. Furthermore, the distance she sets between herself as well as genuine emotions seems to be more obvious as the story continues, the humor seems to accompany and emphasize her isolation.


To conclude, Why I Live at the P.O. is a story that is written by Eudora Welty whose inspiration to write Why I Live at the P.O. resulted from a photograph that she took of a woman ironing in the small post office. The story is told in the first-person narrator that leads to the external conflicts within her family that resulted from the inner-conflicts like the lack of self-confidence as well as the need to have more care as well as attention due to these conflicts she deals with as well as have or suffer inside herself is a factor for her to move out of her family’s house to the post office. The story scan be a categorized as a dramatic monologue that has or uses a formalist method, with the use of irony and humor that Sister overcomes herself within letting her inner-conflict to attack on her family that this conflict causes the external tension as well as quarrels with her family.

Why I live at the P.O. Plot Summary, Themes, Symbols and Humor

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