A Visit of Charity


Welty, Eudora


Short Story


One of the most celebrated writers of the American South, Eudora Welty was born in 1899 in Jackson, Mississippi, where she lived for most of her life. Her first published volume of short stories—the genre for which she is particularly well-known—features "A Visit of Charity." In this story, a fourteen-year-old campfire girl named Marian, looking to make some points toward an award, makes a visit to a nursing home, bringing with her a small potted plant as a gift. A nurse leads her to the room that belongs to two feisty women. Marian is left alone to face them, and the visit is not easy. The text raises questions regarding the human motives behind the act of giving and the possible consequences that acts of generosity can have for the would-be giver. How does giving with a goal in mind alter the interaction between the giver and the receiver? What should we do when giving does not go as planned?

Full Text*

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Stories, Essays, and Memoir by Eudora Welty (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1998).


Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.


Connection and RelationshipGiving and ReceivingImpact and OutcomesMotives and Values

Big Questions

How does fear bring us together and how does it divide us?What makes it possible for us to connect to others? What gets in the way?What does good giving require?When I give, what do I expect in return? What do I receive?How do we know the impact of our actions?What is the impact of our actions - on ourselves and others?Can selfish motives result in positive action?Do one’s motives for serving or giving matter? How?

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. How would you describe Marian's attitude when she arrives at the nursing home?
  2. How do the two women receive Marian?
  3. How would you describe Addie?
  4. Does Marian's expectation about her service get fulfilled? Why or why not?
  5. Does Marian's motivation make her service matter? Why or why not?
  6. In your own professional or service work, how do your motivations and intentions influence your impact? How does it influence the attitudes of those you serve?
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