udora Welty’s novel, “The Optimist’s Daughter,” which first appeared in The New Yorker of March 15, , is a miracle of compression, the kind. The Optimist’s Daughter. By Eudora Welty · March 15, P. The New Yorker, March 15, P. Laurel’s father, Judge McKelva, died in the hospital 3. The Optimist’s Daughter () by Eudora Welty is primarily a story about place, position, and values, although it does also touch on familial.

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The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty. After his death, she and her silly young stepmother go back still farther, to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. Alone in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past, hersel The Optimist’s Daughter is the story of Laurel McKelva Hand, a young woman who has left the South and returns, years later, to New Orleans, where her father is dying.

Alone in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past, herself, and her parents. Hardcoverpages. Published May 7th by Random House first published Nate CourtlandMr. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Optimist’s Daughterplease sign up.

The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty (1960)

Any good book group discussion topics or questions for this book? Gaye Ingram Have you read it? I would be happy to share my views. When I first read the book, I was in my thirties. I hated it, mainly because I felt the …more Have you read it? I hated it, mainly because I felt the protagonist, Laurel, was bloodless. She left a home in which she had grown up and that had been carefully tended by her mother to her widowed father’s late-life second wife without resistance.

That woman was tasteless, shallow, sillyeverything her mother had not been. I was in my acquisitive stage. I wanted my great grandmother’s bread bowl, a painting of my father’s old homeplace, the silver sugar spoon I sneaked from my mother’s silver drawer to dig in the sandbox. I was bent on preservation. Last spring, all these years later, as I try to decide what to do with many of the things accumulated in that period of my life, I reread the book.

And I liked it. I understood it and the protagonist, Laurel. She had lost a husband in war and knew one cannot hold back time, that a beloved parental home is home only when the family that made it beloved live in it. I’ve wondered if I read this book well. It reminds me of a short story by Peter Taylor in which a Southern woman living in Chicago loses a husband.

Her extended family back in Tennessee expect her to return there, perhaps remarry. She expects that what she will do. She moves daughtef an apartment, sends most of the family heirlooms back south, and starts again. I didn’t really get that one either when I first read it. Homeplaces and heirlooms matter a lot in traditional cultures like the American South and parts of New England. I wonder if we look at them differently in your youth and age? See 2 questions about The Optimist’s Daughter….

Lists with This Book. Apr 22, Brina rated it really liked it Shelves: Eudora Welty is considered one of the great American writers of the 20th century. With a life ewlty the majority of the century, she wrote a plethora of stories and novels. Her stellar work personifying the southern genre of writing won multiple awards over the span of her lifetime. None of the novels, however, garnered as much praise as The Optimist’s Daughter which won the Pulitzer Prize in when Welty was 64 years old.


A crowning jewel for a lifetime achievement of writing, The Optimis Eudora Welty is considered one of the great American writers of the 20th century. A crowning jewel for a lifetime achievement of writing, The Optimist’s Daughter is a look into both southern customs and an in depth look at people and their relationships.

The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty () | LiteraryLadiesGuide

Laurel McKelvy Hand has returned to the south from Chicago when she hears that her father Judge Clinton McKelvy has suffered a scratched eye optimisr is need of surgery. An only child to the widower Judge, Laurel feels it is her duty to preside over her father at his time of need.

Yet, the scratched eye turns out to be more complicated than a minor surgery and McKelvy’s new wife Fay does not see predicaments in the same light as Laurel. Judge McKelvy succumbs from the surgery, and tension brews between the two women over their means of honoring him. Having lived in Jackson for her entire life, Welty could have been writing about her own town, and she describes this town in an intimate manner.

Even though Laurel has lived away and in the north, the entire town knows her and shares her innermost secrets. While she is still in a way grieving for both her mother and husband, her friends and neighbors come out in droves to assist her in mourning her father, a revered man in Mount Scalus.

While Laurel still contemplates what might have been had either her optiist or husband lived, Fay, who is younger than Laurel, is a wreck. An outsider who wants all attention for herself and receives no sympathy from old Mount Scalus, Welty has created an ideal antagonist in Fay. As a reader I groaned as she stated how miserable she was all the while wondering if she only married Judge McKelvy, a man twice her age, for his money.

Even though Mount Scalus prays that Fay leaves town, Welty has created in her a character ekdora embodies life moving on and changing how things are done in a small town way of life. This is the first of Welty’s novels that I have read and her simple sentences reeled me in as they read like a story being told on a porch on a lazy afternoon. With a large cast of characters and basic plot, at only pages in length, The Optimmist Daughter was an easy read for me despite the tension existing throughout the novel.

I desired to find out the denouement between the two women, rooting that Laurel emerged as the victor between the two, hoping that Fay would leave Mount Scalus alone. Having read my share of Pulitzers, The Optimist’s Daughter holds its own yet does not quite rank as high as some of the other novels I have read. A testament to Welty’s illustrious career, The Optimist’s Daughter is a short novel that intimately defines life and relationships in a optimiwt small town.

While not the best of award winners, Welty’s novel is a look into a slice of Americana that was optinist interesting read that I rate 3.

View all 19 comments. Aug 14, Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it Recommended to Jeffrey by: On the Southern Literary Trail. It was written much later than the bulk of the rest of her work. She had, as it turned out, one more little gem left in her pen. I’ve read some other reviews and realize that the book was confusing to some people even to optimis point that they gave up relativel “Memory lived not in initial possession but in the freed hands, pardoned and freed, and in the heart that can empty but fill again, in the patterns restored by dreams.


I’ve read some other reviews and realize that the book was confusing to some people even to the point that they gave up relatively early in the book.

I understand because you see we are outsiders in this book. We are missing the beginning and really a lot of the beginning. Conversations are flying around our heads that we have no basis of knowledge to fully understand. The people in this book have known each other their entire lives and their conversations flitter from decade to decade without pausing to fill in the gaps for those of us just visiting.

It was hard to have sympathy for the character Fay McKelva, but it was only after I had finished the book and had pondered on my feelings for a while that I realized how crazy that town was driving this little girl from Madrid, Texas. Fay wasn’t bright enough or patient enough to just listen, eudoar, and accumulate knowledge. I always think of myself in these situations lptimist the Antonio Banderas character from the superb movie The thirteenth Warrior.

He is an Arab who is placed with twelve Norse warriors on a optimiist and he doesn’t know a single word of their language, but he keeps listening. So the key to this book was to keep listening. Antonio Banderas as Ahmad ibn Fadlan Laurel Hand comes back home to Mississippi to be a support for her father, Judge McKelva, during euudora minor surgery to correct a torn retina in his eye.

His wife, Fay McKelva, younger than his daughter is also there to offer support, but really seems to be more of a hindrance than a help to the recover of her 72 year old husband. Unexpectedly the Judge takes a turn for the worse and Laurel feels the need to stay at the hospital hoping he will start to get better.

I’ve spent time at a hospital waiting for people to die and the hospital becomes this condensed warped existence that I’ll let Laurel explain. The whitened floor, the whitened wall and ceiling, were set with narrow bands of black receding into the distance, along which the spaced-out doors, graduated from large to small, were all closed.

But of course the last door on the right of the corridor, the one standing partway open as usual, was still her father’s. One of her fondest memories as a child was listening to her father and mother read to one another.

She could hardly fall asleep, she tried to keep awake, for pleasure. She cared for her own books, but she cared more for theirs, which meant their voices. In the lateness of the night, their two voices reading to each other where she could hear them, never letting a silence divide or interrupt them, combined into one unceasing voice and wrapped her around as she listened, as still as if she were asleep.

Weelty was sent to sleep under a velvety cloak of words, richly patterned and stitched with gold, straight out of a fairy tale, while they went reading on into her dreams.

The wife makes all the arraignments. In the words of Fay: He’s going in the new part. I felt the heat rise in my neck and the need to say “you have no right”, but the fact of the matter is Fay does have the right. Laurel has lost her mother, her husband, and her father. It made me think about the people Welgy have lost. I lost a sister, who died on my birthday.