Date of Award

5-2004

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Advisor

Elaine Ford

Second Committee Member

Pat Burnes

Third Committee Member

Constance Hunting

Abstract

For my thesis I elected to write a novel, as my emphasis within my program of study was Creative Writing. The body of this text represents the entirety of my work from January to April of 2004, though some preparations and early outlines were drawn as early as November of 2003. The germ of this work came to me as an imagined moment-the image of a young boy walking down a street. From this mental picture pieces of narrative began to fall out, primarily because the picture needed explanation: where was he walking? Why? And so on. I described the scene once as it came to me, in November, and then began adding to it. In January I began to write the body of the text itself, writing roughly 70 pages of text before coming to the moment I had imagined a few months previous. It has now been swallowed by the story it created. The novel itself is a coming of age story, concerning the adventures (both internal and external) of a young teenager named Connor Tatum. He is a runaway, though he manages to make do with a few connections provided to him by his older brother Jonathan, with whom he "took off." Unfortunately for Connor, his brother has been recently murdered, and after a run of bad luck he is forced to return home. This places him in the clutches of his stepfather Gary. As far as stepparents in fairy tales go, Gary is not unique. He is domineering, at times physically abusive, and is enamored with the ideologies of the Christian far right. When Connor returns home his stepfather insists that he begin reading the Bible. Though he is resistant at first, Connor begins to come to terms with the stories and ideas presented to him-though not in ways that his stepfather would approve. As a gesture of "male bonding," Gary takes an increasingly resentful and angry Connor on a hunting trip. Connor finds himself in a position where he would be able to shoot his stepfather and make a believable plea that it was accidental, but instead lets Gary live, in accordance with the words of the Sermon on the Mount, which Connor has recently read (luckily for Gary). This does not signal an entirely happy ending, however, as Connor once again runs away.

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