This story is told by Sister, whose grandfather, Papa-Daddy, has gotten her a job as postmistress of the smallest post office in Mississippi. Sister is living peaceably with Papa-Daddy, her Uncle Rondo, and her Mama, when her younger sister, Stella-Rondo, returns home from an apparently failed marriage with a two-year-old daughter, Shirley T. Stella-Rondo had eloped with Mr. Whitaker, a traveling photographer, now nowhere to be seen.

No sooner does she move in then Stella-Rondo is back to her old tricks as the family favorite. When Sister questions the paternity of Shirley T (even noting how much she looks like Papa-Daddy), Stella-Rondo steadfastly maintains that the child is adopted. She punishes Sister by telling Papa-Daddy that Sister said he should trim his beard, which has been growing untouched by human scissors since it first appeared.

Later, Sister tries to fight back by saying that Shirley T is mute and mentally challenged, but (lo and behold!) she isn't. No matter how tall Stella-Rondo's tales are, the family believes her, and Sister remains the family scapegoat. Finally, to protest her dispossession, Sister rebels by moving away from home--to the local post office.


There are two dynamics in this hilarious story. The first is that of the family system in which Sister is the designated scapegoat and Stella-Rondo the favorite. After a life of being put-down, Sister seems finally to have come into her own with Stella's elopement. However, Stella's sudden reappearance restores the dynamic. Sister, however, has developed some resources--she is able to leave home, too, even if only to the local post office for a few days.

The second dynamic is the tension (or lack thereof) over the identity of Shirley T. Evidently the child couldn't be Stella-Rondo's unless she had sex before marrying (and even before meeting) Mr. Whitaker. Everyone except Sister accepts as gospel truth that the child is "adopted." Stella offers no other explanation, even though Shirley T resembles Papa-Daddy. It seems clear that the little girl is really Stella-Rondo's, but who is the father? Could Papa-Daddy be the father? Or just some anonymous man? All we know is that Stella-Rondo is likely to get away with it; and Sister will probably end up back at home.


This story was first published in Curtain of Green and Other Stories (Harcourt, Brace, & World) 1941.

Primary Source

The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty


Harvest Books

Place Published

New York



Page Count