The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

Evelyn Ryan is a housewife in a small 1950s Ohio town. Her life would be described as "awful" by an outside observer: she lives with an alchoholic husband who is frequently out of work and spends much of his earnings on booze, and she has 10 children who keep her constantly busy with their various adventures. Although Evelyn showed much promise academically, her marriage to Kelly Ryan ended her dreams of writing for a newspaper.
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However, Evelyn refuses to give up and wallow in her depressing circumstances. Instead, she channels her creativity into entering contests which were quite popular in the 1950s. Most involved writing brief rhymes or essays, and the prizes varied from luggage to bug spray to free groceries to trips and cars.

Evelyn's genius comes through in the many creative entries she writes, and consequently in the constant stream of prizes which arrive at the Ryan home, often just when needed (she constantly seems to win a new appliance just when the old one has stopped working).

The review of this Book prepared by Susan Braun

Evelyn Ryan is a mother of 10 children in the 1950's in the small town of Defiance, Ohio. Her husband Kelly is an alcoholic and drinks away most of his small paycheck, so the family is very poor. Evelyn uses her writing skills to enter the many contests of that era. From writing Burma Shave ads, to finishing jingles for products like Dial soap, or naming different bug sprays, Evelyn manages to win small cash prizes as well as tv's, toys, knives, as well as a supermarket shopping spree. She also writes poetry and stories which help keep her family afloat. Meanwhile, she has to deal with being the only reliable parent. When her husband has a nervous collapse and sinks into a depression, she has to convince him to go back to work because her contest wins aren't enough for the family's survival. She also has to reassure her daughter (the author of this book) when her teachers assume that because their family is poor it means that she's dumb. Meanwhile, Evelyn finds a group of other eager contestants around the state and becomes pen pals with them.
The review of this Book prepared by Angela Tircuit

Chapter Analysis of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

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Plot & Themes

Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes Kind of living:    -   general poverty story Family, love    -   Yes Special relationship with    -   mother Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   homemaker Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   American


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   2 () United States    -   Yes Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee Century:    -   1930's-1950's

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   very happy    -   encouraged    -   like laughing Pictures/Illustrations?    -   None    -   A lot 11-15 B&W How much dialogue in bio?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   76%-100% of book

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