The Optimist's Daughter Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Optimist's Daughter

Laurel McKelva Hand leaves her job as a textile designer in Chicago, to go back home to the South when her father calls because he's sick. This book opens with Judge McKelva seeing a doctor with both his daughter and his second wife Fay (Laura's stepmother) because he's having trouble with his vision. When the doctor recommends that he has an operation to fix his retina, Laura and the Judge decide that this is best, over Fay's objections. The operation is a success, but the Judge has to spend weeks in bed with his eyes covered. Unable to move, he begins to lose heart as Fay, who's a grasping woman who thinks always of herself, torments him, and by the end of part I, he's died. Part II then revolves around Laurel and Fay's trip back home with his body to the small town where the family lives. As the town gathers to mourn the Judge, Fay's family (whom she's denied) turns up.
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The review of this Book prepared by Ann Gaines

Chapter Analysis of The Optimist's Daughter

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1930's-1950's Family, struggle with    -   Yes Struggle with:    -   Step Parent(s) Family, caring for ill    -   Yes Who is sick?    -   Father because he/she is    -   physically ill Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   artist Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   3 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Deep South Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Eudora Welty Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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