“Old Mr. Marblehall” Summary: Eudora Welty Short Story

Old Mr. Marblehall Eudora Welty Summaryshort story
“Old Mr. Marblehall” Summary

“Old Mr. Marblehall” is a short story by Eudora Welty from her collection A Curtain of Green and Other Stories. It’s about an old man who’s never done much and is known for walking a lot. He got married late in life and he also has a surprising secret. Here’s a summary of “Old Mr. Marblehall”.

“Old Mr. Marblehall” Summary

Mr. Marblehall has never done much of anything and didn’t get married until he was sixty. He’s often seen out walking, bent over, impatiently waiting to cross the street. Onlookers in Natchez think he’s near death but they compliment him to his face. He wears his beautiful tweed coat all year round, as he’s cold all the time.

His wife is a large, older, self-conscious woman. She attends the social gatherings of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Her presence is a bit off-putting. She sings in a way that dizzies the ladies and amuses the men.

They live in Mr. Marblehall’s ancestral home, which is dark and full of old things. They have a son, which surprises everyone. He’s six and expensively dressed.

Mr. Marblehall isn’t particularly important; some people are surprised to hear he’s still alive. He travels for his health, walking and being driven in a carriage. After a week or two away, he’s again seen walking in Natchez. People don’t know why he got married and wouldn’t pay much attention if he died.

Mr. Marblehall leads a double life; this also started when he was sixty. He stands by a row of zinnias outside a little galleried house on the other side of town. His wife here is worse than the other one—fatter and funny looking. She screams about her husband to a neighbor.

He’s known as Mr. Bird here. His wife complains about how he reads pulp stories in bed and doesn’t say anything. She thinks they’re too scary. He only reads them to pass time.

Worst of all, he has another son here. He’s just like the other one, except he’s missing a front tooth and is a little smarter. They both get what they want with tantrums.

One night, this little boy will follow Mr. Marblehall (Mr. Bird) when he leaves on one of his health trips. He’ll follow to the house on the other side of town. He’ll see the big woman and possibly the other boy. He’ll climb a tree and see his father reading a story in bed. He’ll realize what’s going on. No one will believe it at first, or maybe he will confess. Both families would be stunned.

But if there is no climax and Mr. Marblehall continues as he is, no one will care. He’s storing up memories and life and multiplied it with deception. There’s still time to kill. He could have years of imagining how people would be shocked to find out about his double life.

I hope this summary of “Old Mr. Marblehall” by Eudora Welty was helpful.