Our Kind: A Novel in Stories Summary & Study Guide

Kate Walbert
This Study Guide consists of approximately 37 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Our Kind.
This section contains 498 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Our Kind: A Novel in Stories Summary & Study Guide Description

Our Kind: A Novel in Stories Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Our Kind: A Novel in Stories by Kate Walbert.

Stories in this novel, published in 2004, take place over a period of years from early in the 1950's through the early 2000's. Historical dates are not as critical to understanding the stories as is the relative dates of each character's experiences. Stories told or shared with each other may be from an earlier or later time or period. The novel is set in a small northeastern United States town. Stories vary with seasons of the year, as in any northern climate. Within the town, characters in the novel create their own community through shared and socially expected experiences.

The plot of this novel groups several stories about experiences, like those of many similarly situated communities. The community of middle to upper middle class female friends develops over fifty years of sharing experiences. Most of them relocate to this town initially with their newly wed husbands. Shortly after arrival they begin sharing their lives as wives and mothers, while not yet about their memories of daughters and boyfriends. Still to come are their lives as lovers, divorcees and widows, middle-aging, old and golden aging, disabling, crippling, still trying and then finally dying.

This novel is the plot of life, or rather, it plots stories of several female friends' lives. They meet, remember, experience, reminisce and have children growing together and apart in virtually every community. Main Street is lost to the mall but for a few small shops. The friends find gathering places: The Club, Canoe's pool, Bambi or Barbara's, airport bar or craft class at Fleishmann's. The town has Bishop's orchard, the Center for Recuperating and the Hospice when no longer hoping. Nothing is grandiose or unusual about any of the friends. No one is famous, but all are heroic for no more than striving and surviving.

This novel combines the stories of ten women whose lives develop together. Many of them marry, have children, get divorced, become sick or old, and die - just as in any American small town. Each had, has or would have had husbands, boyfriends or girlfriends, children, parents, hobbies, lovers and failings they share with one another. As a group of friends they try not so much to understand, as simply to accept and care for each other. Most of them do what is expected since they are gender-consigned. They find, as they grow to know each other and themselves better, that they are not so designed.

Most of them meet in the 1950s after marriage when they move to town with their husbands. They bear children in their twenties, daughters who they raise just like Dr. Spock says. They share OBGYNs, baby photo shoots, teen craft classes, racquets and golf at the Club. They share stories of their lovers and have bursts of second chance creativity. They divorce in the 1970s, live through the malaise and memories in the 80s, maladies, memory loss and wheelchairs in the 90s. They share dreams now of what might have been.

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This section contains 498 words
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