Eudora Welty: The Hitch-Hikers

Deal Me In 2019 – Week 18

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Of course it was by the guitar that he had known at once they were not mere hitch-hikers, they were tramps. They were full-blown, abandoned to this. Both of them were – but when he touched it he knew obscurely that it was the yellow guitar, that bold and gay burden in the tramp’s arms, that had caused him to stop his car and pick them up.

There’s something interesting about Eudora Welty’s short story “The Hitch-Hikers” that I can’t really put my finger on.

Tom Harris is a traveling salesman of office supplies who picks up a couple of men on his way to Memphis. Prior to his destination, he and his traveling companions stop at a small town in which many of the residents are at least familiar with Tom.

Parties and murder ensue.

Perhaps what is interesting is that in one sense, Tom and the hitch-hikers are drastically different – Tom has a job. On the other hand, they have more in common than one might think. In their own ways, they are all transient – physically, socially, mentally, spiritually.

The interactions between the three main characters and the townspeople and even Mike, the collie dog, all display a community of sorts, but one that doesn’t have all the connections we might like to think a community should have.

short stories century

I read this story when I selected the King of Spades for Week 18 of my Deal Me In 2019 short story project. It’s included in The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike. My Deal Me In list can be seen here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.


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