Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Michael Mays

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Kenneth Watson

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Kate Cochran

Committee Member 3 Department



The Optimist's Daughter and The Death of the Heart reveal that, for Eudora Welty and Elizabeth Bowen, place is· more than mere landscape. Place is both the scene upon which their novels unfold and the means by which they convey their abstract understandings of the world. Place provides the physical settings of their stories, but it also reveals something about their psyche or symbolic language. The settings used by Welty in The Optimist's Daughter reinforce traditional notions of place in Southern life and society whereas the settings employed by Bowen in The Death of the Heart exhibit a partiality for mobility over rootedness. In The Optimist's Daughter, Welty's protagonist must confront a possible loss of heart and home, and in The Death of the Heart, Bowen's protagonist is faced with an actual loss of freedom and mobility. Thus, through a study of these two novels, Welty's focus on place as it relates to roots and tradition, and Bowen's fascination with place as it relates to continual movement and progress, become apparent.