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

I discovered this novel when I wanted something longer from Welty than a short story. You want to be back in that world, looking at those people and wondering why things happened the way they did. When I went back to North Carolina a few years ago on a research trip, the smells and sounds of the land and the air hit me like a shout of remembering.

His quiet daughter Laurel, and his snapping second wife, Fay, come with him. The hospital seems eccentrically loud and folksy, because Welty writes the dialogue to jar and to surprise. The judge takes a long time to recover from the operation, daughtfr Mrs Martello is installed as an experienced night nurse.

Mrs Martello had found her shaking the judge by the shoulders, insisting that he get up now. Nothing is her fault, ever.


As soon as Laurel gets off the train, she is embraced by her own people in her own town, and Fay is quietly, tacitly rejected. Fay is a country upstart, a pretty little thing that the judge married ill-advisedly, and she seems to be no more than an ill-bred and selfish little madam. But through the homecoming, ooptimist the funeral, Welty shows us more depth to Fay than we would have believed possible. The daugher we see, the worse she gets.

Her rudeness is outrageous, and her venality and greed are astounding.

The horrible stepmother in The Optimist’s Daughter, by Eudora Welty – Kate Macdonald

The South is supposed to be all about Southern manners and niceties observed: She clearly desires to refuse Fay anything she wants, or any advantage Laurel might regret. Laurel wants a gentle polite surface to be maintained: Fay wants her money and her property and to take her chance of having a good time at last.

Although Fay appears to be the tougher and the nastier person, Laurel optimiwt pretty tough too: They are an intense combination.

The house is also a player in this situation. But the house becomes a battleground. Laurel looks for a breadboard, something old and precious to her, and optimiwt that Fay has thrown it out, either years ago, or only a few days ago, out of spite.


The funeral is pretty spectacular. The Texans also add genuine family feeling to the emotions simmering in the air, because Wanda Fay is loved, and she loves them, even though they are all awful, ghastly, horrible people: Welty puts us on the spot here: Fay is a horrific character, because she is so unbridled, so uninterested in keeping things calm tbe quiet: You are commenting using your WordPress.

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The Optimist’s Daughter

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