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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 416

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about Eleanor Oliphant's attempt to overcome the emotional and physical abuse inflicted upon her by her mother. Eleanor comes off as occasionally rude and uncaring; in spite of this, however, we recognize that she is a kind person. She finds it difficult to both...

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about Eleanor Oliphant's attempt to overcome the emotional and physical abuse inflicted upon her by her mother. Eleanor comes off as occasionally rude and uncaring; in spite of this, however, we recognize that she is a kind person. She finds it difficult to both express and accept affection, however, because she is so unused to the basic tenets of a loving relationship (warmth, affection, kindness). We learn, for instance, that she had never received a hug, or had her hand held. It comes as little surprising, sadly, when we learn that Eleanor’s only boyfriend had been extremely physically abusive; this type of relationship was the only relationship Eleanor understood.

Eleanor's life is extremely regimented; she goes to work, eats pizza, and drinks alcohol on the weekends by herself, and calls her mother once a week, phone conversations in which we grasp the coldness with which her mother treated her. At the same time, we see Eleanor developing a budding friendship with the IT guy at work, Raymond. Through this relationship, and thanks in large part to Raymond’s warm and empathy, Eleanor begins to overcome her past. She suffers a major setback, however, when she attends the concert of a famous musician she believed herself to be in love with. Not only does he turn out to be a horrible and obnoxious person who bares his bottom to the audience during his performance, but the smoke effects on stage also bring back memories of a house fire. She falls into a terrible depression and prepares to commit suicide.

Raymond, worried about her absence from work (she had never been absent), comes to check on her, and, discovering her in this state, takes care of her until Eleanor feels better. With the support of Raymond’s friendship, Eleanor begins seeing a therapist, during which she investigates her past with her mother. Eventually, Eleanor remembers (she had suppressed the memory) that her mother had in fact died in the house fire she had started in order to kill Eleanor and her little sister. This is the major plot twist of the novel. Eleanor’s little sister died, who Eleanor had been extremely close with. The novel nevertheless ends on a happy note, with Eleanor aware of her feelings of warmth and affection for Raymond, who she is happy to see. The reader is left with the sense that, after everything Eleanor has suffered through, she is on the road to recovery.

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