Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Fleming, John

Keywords

loss, love, sex, adultery, women

Abstract

These collected stories represent a culling from a portion of work that shares a similar theme of loss--its manifestation, its channeling, by various fictional characters, into the palpable and sensate, into the physical world of the body. They are people, mostly women, who have lost their hold on the world to which they are accustomed, who become entangled in situations where their bearings are skewed, their judgment faulty, their decisions based solely on a physical, most often sexual, attraction that simultaneously depletes a sense of worth, while providing its semblance. The loss stems, at times, as in "Manifold," from beyond the control of the character, from the world of adults who cannot, for their own reasons, handle their own despair. It comes from the unavoidable presence of mental illness, and the inability of the character to perceive, amidst the confusion of change, a stable view.

Often, as in "She Fell to Her Knees," there is no reference point upon which to base a way to live. Memory is only a trigger for more loss. The characters' own choices bring about loss in other ways--an abandoned infant, promiscuity, an encounter with a stranger--all choices made in an effort to ease, and which result in compounding precarious situations. Brief solace in sex results in inevitable emptiness. Relationships are sought for the safety of their impermanence. The respite from loneliness is always temporary, and almost always sought with the hope that from the physical will emerge the gift of emotional commitment. The stories seek to reveal, not the histories of the characters, but the maps of their emotional pasts. They attempt to portray the routes from which the women have stumbled, and in this way illuminate the emotional present of each story.

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