There are a number of questions that get asked pretty frequently about this book, so I thought I’d just answer them here. (Answers that contain spoilers will be hidden — click on the Show/Hide link to view.)
For the full review and a detailed summary of the plot, see the Summary and Review for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
Where can I find a full plot summary of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine?
Right here! Summary and Review for Where the Crawdads Sing. (Note: you’ll need to scroll to the very bottom of the page and click “Show/Hide the Detailed Plot Summary (Spoilers)”)
Is Eleanor Oliphant autistic? Does she have Aspergers Syndrome (part of the autism spectrum)?
So, this question gets asked and debated a lot. Here’s the support for the two arguments.
Eleanor Oliphant is Not Autistic: Support
The book never refers to Eleanor Oliphant as being specifically autistic. The word “autistic” (and any variant thereof) never appears in the book. Most importantly, Gail Honeyman specifically states that Eleanor Oliphant is not on the spectrum: ““Eleanor isn’t anywhere on the spectrum,” says Honeyman. “She is the product of nurture, not nature; traumatic events in her childhood have shaped her. But I was really keen not to portray her as tragic or a victim; she has agency and the power to make her own decisions.”
In other words, Honeyman is indicating that Eleanor’s personality is a result of her past.
Eleanor Oliphant is Autistic: Support
The argument that Eleanor Oliphant is autistic usually follows based on the description of her in the book. She’s described with certain traits that are commonly associated with people who are on the autism spectrum. For example, she is described as being socially awkward, having intense emotional reactions to things, has a desire for routine and repetition. She also displays a large variance in abilities that tends to be seen in people with autism (being very good at certain things).
So, what’s the verdict? Honestly, I think going with the author’s take is probably the easiest, since at the end of the day she’s an imaginary character. If you see it differently, that’s fine too since it’s okay to interpret books as you see fit.
(If you read my review of the book, you’ll see that I’m of the view that the character of Eleanor Oliphant is so inconsistent that it’s not worth debating.)
How did Eleanor Oliphant get her scars? What scars does she have?
Part ways through the book, we find out that Eleanor got her scars on her face when she was ten years old.
At the end of the book, we find out more details. The fire was set by her mother, and Eleanor’s sister (Marianne) died in that fire as well.
What’s the deal with Eleanor Oliphant’s mother?
So yes, the “conversations” Eleanor has with her mother are in her head.
What is the plot twist in Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine?
Still confused over something? Drop a comment below and I’ll try to answer if I can! :)