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The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Spring Symposium 2013

Shruti Narula

on 18 June 2013

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Transcript of The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
by Kim Edwards

Manifestations of Guilt and Betrayal
David: becoming emotionally distant
“Because he spoke of photography as he had spoken once of medicine, of their marriage, a language and tone that evoked the lost past and filled her with longing” (Edwards 175).
Norah: trying to gain control
“Wrapped and protected, the layers of her own life contained within another...She had found her own way…she was petal, calyx, stem, and leaf… and she was glad” (Edwards 332).
Paul: acting out/alienation
"Paul nodded, but the tightness in his chest grew stronger and he couldn't hold it back. 'You just want an excuse to make me stop playing'" (Edwards 218).

Dichotomy Between Good and Bad
“‘You said nothing would happen,’ Norah said, ‘and now he has a broken arm. Just like that. It could have been his neck. His back.’ ‘It could have been, yes, but it wasn’t. So stop. Okay? Just stop it, Norah’” (Edwards 154).
“‘She could have died,’ Caroline said. Her calm broke; she began to tremble. ‘But she didn’t,’ Al said firmly. Al’s hand was warm, large and comforting” (Edwards 169).
Juxtaposition of chapters back-to-back
Punishment for David for giving up Phoebe
Reward for Caroline for raising her
David's Photography Motif
“Photography is all about secrets...The secrets we all have and will never tell” (Edwards 201).
“To be in camera was to operate in secret. This is what his father had believed: each person was an isolated universe. Dark trees in the heart, a fistful of bones: that was his father’s world” (Edwards 381).
Outlet for his secrets and guilt
“But, sadly, from those years of Paul’s childhood he remembered only a few moments in brief isolation, with the clarity of photos” (Edwards 310).
Focus on the fleeting moments in life

Would not recommend for AP English Literature curriculum
Premise seems promising but lacking in literary criticism and merit
Convoluted plot development at times
Certain plot points and characterization are too convenient
Abrupt ending with little buildup
“Truth, properly respected, has the power not merely to shatter but to heal” [2].

Gender Roles
Norah and Caroline both ultimately blossom into 2 self-sufficient women
“It was her vacation, after all - she had won two weeks in Aruba for selling the highest number of cruise packages in the state of Kentucky last year” (Edwards 173).
“Ridiculous, an idea she had always loathed, and yet here she was--a damsel in distress” (Edwards 54).

“Music is like you touch the pulse of the world. Music is always happening, and sometimes you get to touch it for a while, and when you do you know that everything’s connected to everything else” (Edwards 202).
"Phoebe was still running, chasing after butterflies, birds, motes of light, the fluttering notes spilling from the radio" (Edwards 166).
“Their singing merged, and the music was inside him, a humming in his flesh, and it was outside, too, her voice a twin to his own” (Edwards 401).

Connections to Other Texts
AP English Literature
QiQi Song, Gabi Miano, Shruti Narula, Sherry Kuo, and Sejal Shah

Crime and Punishment
Destructive secret
"The event of the story being like a stone thrown in water...it's not the event that's interesting, but rather the ripples the event creates in the lives of characters” [2].
Sheer irreversibility of the act
Ripples: “Making sense of a life shaped by destructive unknowing, and the paradoxical tragedy of suffering being only magnified by human attempts to ameliorate it” [2].
Playing God: actions tremendously others' lives
“Still, he remembered the depth and endurance of his mother’s grief, the way she walked uphill to the grave every morning” (Edwards 17).
The Kite Runner
Missed opportunities
Hassan and Amir never reunite after their falling out due to the Taliban’s execution of Hassan
“David, running in the arboretum, had been stricken with a massive heart attack and died” (Edwards 325).
David’s sudden death mentioned without warning

As I Lay Dying
Different points of view
Edwards shifts narrative focus as years pass by
Alternates between Henry family and Caroline
AILD: first-person accounts by multiple characters

Henrik Neijman
Kevin Carter
Dr. David Henry delivers own twins
Gives away his daughter, Phoebe, who has Down syndrome
Nurse who helped with delivery raises Phoebe
Both families live separate lives
Their lives are bound by David's decision

World War II
"As a single mother at a time when special-needs accommodations are unheard of or considered naively radical, Caroline would seem to have....a difficult path to travel. Edwards does nothing to minimize or romanticize that struggle, but Caroline makes her humble way in the world through sheer determination" [1].
Jay Vederman
Full transcript