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The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty

The Ponder Heart (1954)

by Eudora Welty

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4781033,712 (3.64)51
Edna Earle, a person of large distinction in Clay County, and the talkative owner of the Beulah Hotel, tells the story of her Uncle Daniel Ponder, a local hero whose over-affection for society compels him to give everything he owns away. The disappearance of Uncle Daniel's second wife, the waifish and willowy Bonnie Dee Peacock, leads to his arrest for murder. The trial, which comprises the second half of the novel, is a masterpiece of courtroom anarchy.… (more)
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English (9)  Spanish (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
About halfway through this book I stopped and looked up and said something forceful to the effect that Holy God, this was the funniest book I'd read in ages. But I hadn't laughed out loud once, because, I realised, there weren't any jokes in it. Narrator Edna Earl is not the sort to go telling jokes; but when she described something as being done 'politely' she actually means the exact opposite, and that's what my English teacher taught me was the definition of irony. It's a little masterpiece of southern US voice and place, like Faulkner via Austen - all the wonderful locutions of language and syntax without the apocalyptic passions. Instead we get Edna Earl and her Uncle Daniel and their familial doings and complications, most arising from Uncle Daniel's heedless largesse and the efforts to restrain his prodigal generosity and the rich comic drama arising from his precipitative second marriage. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
Yet another beautiful story by Welty -- full of almost unbelievable eccentricity and Southern charm. How many Uncle Davids are out there giving away their money and lost in a world that is truly outside of themselves. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 22, 2014 |
This humorous story of Uncle Daniel Ponder is told through the eyes of his niece, Edna Earle. Much of the action centers on his marriage, his wife's death, and his subsequent trial. An early humorous moment includes when he is committed to the asylum but turns the table on the relative who had him committed. A later humorous scene begins at the moment Uncle Daniel takes the stand in the trial. It is a good example of Southern literature from the period in which it was written. While some may call it racist today, I don't really think that was the author's intent. She was simply using common verbiage that both blacks and whites used at that time period. While this book will never be a favorite with me, it does a good job of evoking a by-gone era. ( )
  thornton37814 | May 13, 2014 |
I love Eudora Welty. This one reminded me of "Why I Live at the PO". I was glad that it was full novel length instead of a short story like PO. Lots of quirky characters and a wonderful narrator. Ponder Heart is a delightful read full of laughs and fun. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
This is one of the funniest novels you'll ever read. Read it slowly and try to imagine the dialects and relaxed culture of the old American South. How anyone could read these words from the trial of Uncle Daniel Ponder and not come near to falling over laughing is beyond me!

Uncle Daniel has stopped his murder trial cold by standing up, throwing open his coat and grabbing fistfulls of money and tossing it to the courtroom spectators.

"Next, Mr. Bank Sistrunk stands up and roars out, "Daniel Ponder! Where did you get that money?" It was too late then. "Well," says Miss Missionary Sistrunk - the oldest one, returned from wildest Africa just twenty-four hours before - "the Ponders as I've always been told did not burn their cotton when Sherman came, and maybe this is their judgment." "Take that back, Miss Florette," I says over people's heads. " The Ponders did not make their money that way. You got yours suing," I says. "What if that train hadn't hit Professor Magee, where'd any Sistrunks be today? Ours was pine trees and 'way after Sherman, and you know it."

Another touching quote about Uncle Daniel spoken by his niece, the narrator of the tale.

"I don't know if you can measure love at all. But Lord knows there's a lot of it, and seems to me from all the studying I've done over Uncle Daniel - and he loves more people than you and I put together ever will - that if the main one you've set your heart on isn't speaking for your love, or is out of your reach some way, married or dead, or plain nitwitted, you've still got that love banked up somewhere. What Uncle Daniel did was just bestow his all around quick - men, women, and children. Love! There's always somebody wants it. Uncle Daniel knew that. He's smart in a way you aren't, child."

Tell me that's not great writing! Anyone? Anyone? Get this book. Read this book. You'll LOVE THIS BOOK! ( )
1 vote myrlton | Jun 9, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Welty, Eudoraprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Krush, JoeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McNeil, HelenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My Uncle Daniel's just like your uncle, if you've got one - only he has one weakness.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Edna Earle's Uncle Daniel Ponder is quite a character in the town of Clay, Mississippi: he carries a Stetson, dresses fit to kill in a snow white suit and is as good as gold - everyone will admit that. But the trouble with Uncle Ponder is he's as rich as Croesus and a great deal too generous. He gave Edna Earle a hotel, and once he even tried to give away his own lot in a cemetery. But when his first marriage to Miss "Teacake" Magee didn't work out, he needed someone else to give things to. So he married seventeen-year-old Bonnie Dee Peacock from a poor backwoods family who "could cut hair and looked as though a good gust of wind might carry her off". She was carried off, but not by the wind - and the result, related in Edna Earle's rattling tongue, is a masterpiece of comic absurdity: an uproarious tale of small town life and the deeply eccentric Ponder family.
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