The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Topics: Character, Writing, Protagonist Pages: 5 (1814 words) Published: March 12, 2013
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter Essay
“We cannot understand the themes of a novel without a full grasp of the issues within its setting in a particular time and place.” Too what extent do you agree with this view? Respond to this question with close reference to one or more novels you have studied. In the extended written text ‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ by Kim Edwards, we are presented with themes that contain issues which are related to the setting in a particular time and place. All elements of the extended written text work together to support the writer’s purpose in an integrated way; Setting, characters, relationships and style to full extent, support my agreement that as a reader living in the 21st century, we cannot understand the important themes of family relationships and society’s attitudes without a full grasp of the issues that unfold and develop in the plot that takes place in 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, America. The novel ‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ is set in the particular time of 1964 and unravels over 25 years. This related to the plot and the themes because in 1964, society and medical professionals thought it would be best for the mentally challenged not to be integrated into society, but instead be shipped off to an institution. In the 1960’s, society’s reactions to people with either mental or physical disabilities were discriminatory and unjust. The setting of Lexington in Kentucky has no real important relevance to the story, but the year the story begins is significant because of this issue. The decision for the main character, David, to send his daughter away was not only influenced by his medical training, but confirmed by David’s childhood, growing up with a sibling that had many medical issues. This event of giving away his daughter is relevant to the theme of the novel; family. David was trying to protect his wife Norah from the same pain his sister, June had caused his mother. “Still he remembered the depth of his mother’s grief, the way she walked uphill to the grave every morning, her arms folded against whatever weather she encountered.” In 1964, People’s attitudes towards disabilities were very ‘narrow-minded’ and un-accepting, “delayed growth and metal development, possible heart complications and an early death”, yet Caroline refuses to conform to society’s perceptions as she fights for Phoebe to attend public school in Pittsburgh as she also takes a stand for people facing health issues and woman’s rights. This was actually a common issue faced by many women in a similar situation of Caroline’s sort. The issues Kim Edward explores were and are still relevant to the issues and implications of secrets society is faced with today. This encourages me to agree to most extent that we cannot understand the themes of a novel fully without a full grasp of the many complicated situations interwoven within the setting in the particular time and place. Relationships is an important theme that helps the reader understand the novel as the issues lead on by the actions of David are explored in surrounding settings in the time era of the 1960’s. The two decisions are at the core of Kim Edwards’ debut novel. The decision of giving way his daughter with Down’s syndrome because he believed she was doomed and her future offers nothing but grief brings up complicated internal issues throughout the text which always related back to this core theme of societies miss-perception because of the setting and time the story takes place. In the novel, various relationships are revelled and developed in a spiralling structure that moves the reader closer the core and interior of each character. From the moment of his twins’ birth and moving forward, Doctor Henry feels as if all his success is now superficial. His relationships with the people most important in his life are at the core of his lie are doomed, leading to his once perfect marriage to fall apart and his much loved son to grow up foreign to him....
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