The Optimist’s Daughter

Rory is reading this book on her bed when her mother bursts in and says they are taking a road trip.

The Optimist’s Daughter is a 1972 short novel by American author Eudora Welty, first published as a long short story in The New Yorker in 1969. The plot is about a woman who travels to see her dying father, reading to him from Dickens. The trip back to her home town to bury her father provides a chance for her to explore the complex emotions evoked by her loss and memories. It won The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The novel is a comment on Rory’s situation – Lorelai is not only an optimist by nature, she is being optimistic in hoping a road trip will magically fix everything. The trip back to the home town reveals the importance of Stars Hollow in Rory’s life as a source of comfort, memory, and understanding. The novel also examines the woman’s stepmother, shown to have been not the right person for her father. This is a hint that Max is likewise not the right person for Lorelai, and she was being too optimistic in thinking a marriage between the two of them would work out.

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