The Stone Diaries Questions and Answers
by Carol Shields

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Is Daisy in The Stone Diaries ever dissatisfied with herself?

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This is an interesting question to consider, as one of the topics Shields was examining in this brilliant novel was the relationship between autobiography and biography, and how impossible it is to convey a complete experience without occluding some aspects of a person's life. Therefore there are plenty of times in Daisy's life where the text could be used to infer a sense of dissatisfaction, but this is never openly stated.

One time that we could use however, would be when Daisy is ill and has to stay secluded in a darkened room. Daisy as a child becomes profoundly dissatisfied with her life and state as she comes to realise that there is life out there and that she is unable to participate in it. We are told that she is "erased from the record of her own existence" as she lays sick in her room. The young Daisy comes to a very important realisation as she lies there:

She understood that if she was going to hold on to her life at all, she would have to rescue it by a primary act of imagination, supplementing, modifying, summing up the necessary connections … getting the details wrong occasionally.

The solution to Daisy's dissatisfaction with her life is to reflect on her own experiences and to see it as a creative engagement that allows Daisy to become an active author in her own autobiography. The solution to dissatisfaction is therefore to emphasise other more pleasing and less painful sections of your life story.

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