Steps Of Discovering Laurel Mc Kleva Essay

2121 words - 9 pages

Eudora Welty’s novel, The Optimist’s Daughter, portrays the story of Laurel McKleva coping with the recent loss of her father while also accepting her past. Laurel McKleva, a widow from Chicago, returns to Mississippi to assist her also widowed father, Judge Clint McKleva, when he must undergo an eye surgery for a scratched retina. While dealing with the stress of staying calm and collected for her father, Laurel also tries to deal with her new stepmother Fay. Fay is much younger than Clint and acts like it as well. She is extremely rude and selfish, and shows no concern for Clint in his time of need. Slowly but surely, Clint digresses more each day and eventually passes away. Fay and Laurel made no progress in their relationship and are left in an awkward state after Clint has passed away. Laurel and Fay return together to Mount Salas for Clint’s funeral. Upon her stay in her childhood house, Laurel must make sense of her past and accept the death of her loved ones including her husband and mother. Welty uses themes such as vision, death, and memory to help Laurel to better understand her past in order to move on into her future.
Vision and more importantly lack of vision, gives the reader a deeper sense of the situation at hand. While getting older does come with a weakening vision, for Clint, it also represents his failing sense of reality. Becky, Clint’s first wife is described as a free-loving spirit, which is ironic due to the constant negative description of Fay. Although Laurel tries to diminish it, she is aware of the annoyance that Fay contributes. There is no similarity between Becky and Fay, which is unusual considering the deep love Clint had for Becky. It is uncommon for a person to be blind to a situation because of their deep yearning for the past, which is what Clint was doing with Fay. “The Judge's blindness was that he thought he could escape from the past by warding it off through absorption in the present” (Arnold). To Clint, Fay was a way out of old age and the past (Arnold). Fay represents selfishness and an overall uncaring disposition. Seeing that Becky represents a more lively, caring way of life, it is hard to understand why Judge would’ve married someone so opposite to his first wife. However, Fay’s behavior can be interpreted as lively and fun just like Becky was before she passed away. When Judge was in the hospital after his surgery, Fay constantly complains about the carnival she wants to go to. Although it was immensely wrong to be complaining about something so minor, Judge could’ve construed what others saw as selfishness as something fun like Becky would’ve done or said. Unfortunately, Fay wasn’t enough to keep Clint going and although he tried hard to hide it, he passed away just as hurt and hopeless as he was when Becky died. Laurel cannot find a reason for her father’s death. She knew he was lacking hope, but didn’t think his death would be so sudden. Being overwhelmed with emotion, Laurel needs to...

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