Critique Eudora Weltys The Optimists Daughter Essays

The New Yorker, March 15, 1969 P. 37

Laurel's father, Judge McKelva, died in the hospital 3 weeks after a complicated but supposedly successful eye operation. His second wife, Fay, had been enraged by his patient silence and had shaken him, trying to arouse him. When he died, Fay felt cheated. She disliked Laurel, and resented any mention of Laurel's mother who had been dead for more than a decade. The funeral was dominated by Fay's boisterous relatives, none of whom had ever known the dead man. Back at her father's house, Laurel realized that Fay really believed herself to be in the right, that her scene in the hospital had been no more than a minor disturbance Laurel knew that she could never pity her until Fay acknowledged the harm she had done. Reading some of her mother's letters, Laurel remembered how strong she had always been. The kitchen was full of machinery the Judge had installed for Fay, and her mother's breadboard had been gouged and chipped with a hammer. She confronted her step-mother with the desecrated object, but Fay retaliated by accusing her of being crazy, like her mother. Laurel felt that her mother had expected her memory to be betrayed by Fay, or by someone like her. Driving away from her home, now Fay's proterty, the last thing Laurel saw was a crowd of children she did not know, waving her goodbye.

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