Judd Rankin’s Daughter was the last of Glaspell’s nine novels. The final three—The Morning Is Near Us (1940), Norma Ashe (1942), and Judd Rankin’s Daughter—were written close together; each of the three features a memorable heroine seeking to rediscover her midwestern heritage in order to better understand the present. In the first two of these books, the protagonists must struggle through the corruption and dissipation of their early idealism to a gradual reawakening in themselves. Judd Rankin’s Daughter, which is not representative of most of Glaspell’s work, delineates a much more complex and interesting heroine involved with the major problems of modern life.
Judd Rankin’s Daughter is about three wonderful people: Judd Rankin, a lovable old Iowa farmer and philosopher who has finally written a book about people living in the Midwest; Frances Rankin Mitchell, his liberal daughter, who is living in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and who embodies both midwestern and eastern values; and Cousin Adah Elwood Logan, a nonconforming sophisticate whose love lives on long after her death.
The novel opens with the anticipated death of Cousin Adah. She lived a rich and happy life, had lovers before and during marriage, and kept a salon where writers and workers met. Frances is present as witness to the death of someone she loved, someone who symbolized freedom and a piece of the...
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