January 15, 2008

David’s Motivations

Posted in Memory Keeper's Daughter tagged , at 9:23 pm by Ms. Davis

When David hands his baby girl over to Caroline and tells Norah that she has died, what was your immediate emotional reaction? At this early point, did you understand David’s motivations? Did your understanding grow as the novel progressed?

*This question comes from the Readers’ Guide at the back of my book.


  1. mrsavery said,

    My immediate reaction was absolute horror! Then I got angry – how DARE HE!!! I wasn’t sure where he was coming from other than there must have been something wrong with the baby. I guess my understanding of why did become clearer as the novel progressed, but I was never going to side with him.

  2. No, of course I wasn’t going to side with him either, but I thought, “Stupid man, but in a moment or so he’ll come to his senses and realize he can’t go through with it, especially realizing his has just delivered and held his very own daughter. As I read the novel I came to realize that his sister, June was pivotal to the decision he made. When she died of a heart defect he lost the sunshine and joy she had provided within the meager subsistance existance of his West Virgina that was his home. The author makes clear David’s knowledge that Down Syndrome children often have heart defects and I think that fact, that he and Nora could very well lose this daughter early in life due to a heart condition threatened to tear open the deep wounds of June’s handicapped life, the brief joys of having had her as a sister and the void created by her death. That was more than he was willing to face a seond time. (At least, that’s what I have concluded!

  3. Ms. Davis said,

    I kind of wonder if he was initially planning on telling her that the baby had died? At the end of the first chapter it says, “His voice broke, and the words he had rehearsed so carefully were gone. He closed his eyes, and when he could speak again more words came, unplanned. “Oh, my love,” he said. “I am so sorry. Our little daughter died as she was born.”
    What could his “planned words” have been? Was he going to tell her the truth? Or was he going to give her a longer build up?

    As for him giving the baby up, it made me really angry. I’m not done with the book, so I can’t speak to how getting to know him better is going to change that. Ultimately, I think it was a supremely selfish act. All he could see was her potential negative impact and not her potential positive impact on his family.

  4. cakequeen2 said,

    I was appalled that he could lie to his wife like he did, regardless of his emotional baggage. here’s a man who has taken an oath for his profession…who could trust him ever upon learning of his unconsciable lie? I’m only up to March, 1965, so perhaps I’ll find out more as the story evolves.

  5. Ms. Davis said,

    David is “playing God”… deciding who gets to live and who has to die. Hubris!!

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