Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English, Linguistics, and Communication

Department Chair or Program Director

Dr. Gary Richards

First Advisor

Dr. Gary Richards

Major or Concentration



In this senior seminar term paper, I compare Welty’s and Ward’s novels and their depictions of storytelling as a means of catharsis. In both novels, the protagonists struggle with the loss of their loved ones and must cope with their grief. I examine the ways that individual and collective, cultural memories affect the grieving process for the protagonists. In Welty’s novel, Laurel, the protagonist, struggles to release the memories of her late husband and father. In Ward’s, the treatment of Black Americans and their own ancestors haunts the central family and they must shake the ghosts in order to heal as a family. Each protagonist has a moment of catharsis in which they release their grip on memory and begin the healing process. Through literary analysis and supplemental secondary sources, I argue that the act of remembering and sifting through memories is not enough to heal from loss. In fact, it is the act of storytelling, of sharing these memories, that provides true healing. After close reading and careful analysis, I conclude that storytelling can be a true connection between the living and the dead.