Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Gregory Howard

Second Committee Member

Steven Evans

Third Committee Member

David Kress


This thesis is a novel length manuscript recounting a character's trip from Bangor, Maine to Monterey, California, where the narrator drove a 1998 Volkswagen Passat for the sole purpose of lighting it on fire and bringing closure to the death of the narrator's friend. The thesis begins shortly after the trip, which last five years, has ended, and the following narrative details the narrator's attempts to explain and understand the events that transpired during his journey. Proceeding in non-chronological order, the narrator explains various episodes during his trip, including bar fights, bounty hunters, run-ins with fugitives, a three year relationship, and an Alamo reenactment. This story is told alongside the narrator's fabricated and embellished story of his friend, the original owner of the Volkswagen Passat who died a year before the trip began. The secondary story details the character, Jesse Larkin, and his work in escorting Abraham Lincoln's funeral train to Springfield, Illinois alongside Wild Bill Hickok. Larkin's story, told in 3rd person by the narrator of the novel, follows a linear structure as the narrator creates a history as a way to remember his deceased friend and as an attempt to understand the narrator's own past once he completed the journey to Monterey. The narrator reconciles the two histories—his own and Larkin's—by describing a final scene in the "Legend" where all the important figures from the past five years of the narrator's life merge into the fabricated history. This final scene allows the narrator to finally experience his past in a positive way, which also allows him to explain the final scene of the thesis, where he at last sets the Passat on fire.