A Book Report of a Visit of Charity
The story happened in a cold day, not only the setting but also relationships among people are also cold enough and merciless. It tells us a visitation which was taken by a fourteen-year-old Campfire girl whose name is Marian. She paid a visit to the Old Ladies' Home in order to earn 5 points. The visit was much out of Marian’s
expectation. She ended up being insulted by rude comments from the old lady--Addie, and before leaving the room, she was harassed by the other old lady who wanted some money. Marian hurriedly left the Home, with scared but finally felt happy.
Instead of charity the whole story is filled with self-interest, insensitivity, and dehumanization, instead of love, good will, and affection. No one in this story carries the charity. The detail description “she stopped for a moment “and” then proceeded
slowly toward the building” shows Marian’s reluctance to get into the Home. “I’m a Campfire Girl…I have to pay a visit to some old lady.” These words and her frequent
thoughts about the points she will get for the visit explain her reason for visitation. Her motives for the visit were not out of her compassion and kindness, but to earn points for her Campfire Girl status. It vividly reveals her self-consciousness and selfishness. When the poor old lady asks Marian for a penny upon her leaving, “Marian pulled violently against the old hands”. Though the action may be out of fear, it also shows her apathy. After she ran out of the nursing home, “under the prickly shrub she stopped and quickly retrieved a red apple she had hidden there” “and took a
big bite out of the apple”. Even after witnessing the poor living conditions of the old women, Marian had not understands the true meaning of charity. As a fourteen-year old girl, her actions and emotions disclose the insensitivity and mercilessness of the society then.
Outside of the so-called Home, there are “pricky dark shrubs with which the city beautified the home” which create a sense of coldness, and abandonment. The floors
inside the building with loose bulging linoleum on it illustrate the awkwardness. “The room is dark”, "The window shade was down, and the only door was shut" which brings forth the gloomy and unwelcoming feeling, imply that the cramped room is a
more suitable for animals rather than humans. Marian even compares the room to a robbers cave. The nurse is also a cold people.Instead of describing the nurse in stereotypical terms as a warm and nurturing character, the author described she as “This was a woman who looked as if she were cold; she had close-cut hair which stood up on the very top of her head exactly like a sea wave” . And later, “She lifted one eyebrow and spoke like a man”. The nurse acts like a robot, “She first extended her arm, bent her elbow, and leaned forward from the hips”. Her movements are unnatural and exaggerated, with no passion and warmness. In conclusion, through descriptive setting, irony and imagery, Welty allows the reader to be pulled into the story and actually experience the mood that the setting interprets.
The author criticizes the fake charity which can destroy the very humanity and criticize the apathy of the people like Marian and the nurse who have created the Home and the conditions more miserable to the inhabitants. This kind of charity is uncharitable indeed.