Type of Document Thesis Author Salerno, Alexandra Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-08262005-181258 Title The Shipswallower and Other Stories Degree Master of Arts Department English, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Elizabeth Stuckey-French Committee Chair Mark Winegardner Committee Member Ned Stuckey-French Committee Member Keywords
- The James River
- Coney Island
Date of Defense 2005-04-08 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis work is a collection of five short stories, each of which deal in some way with romantic love. This is not to say that these are all typical “love stories,” wherein characters pursue each other in various ways for the purpose of coming together happily in the end. Instead, characters try to navigate their own feelings and the feelings of others—with awareness levels ranging from hyper-sensitivity to total obliviousness—and often end up in situations more dire than those in which they started. I explore an experience of first love in “They’ll Never Really Be Saved,” the only story in the collection that features a male protagonist. In this story, I have tried to bring out the strangeness of realizing romantic feelings for the first time at a very young age.
I continue with the idea of first love in “A Meeting at the Old Dead End,” a story set in western Pennsylvania in the 1930’s. This story was inspired by a series of Depression-era photographs taken by German documentary photographers Otto Hagel and Hansel Mieth. At this time in America, the intersection of union and labor law development with the business interests and practices of corporations often resulted in a dangerous clash.
“Caroline in the Tunnel of Love” also takes place in the past, but the romantic tension blooms from the choices of the characters, rather than the circumstances of history. It is here when love begins to go wrong, specifically for Bonnie, the young protagonist. Bonnie is forced to revise her definitions of love and relationships after troubling incident with her boyfriend and a strange friendship with an elderly friend of the family.
The idea of one revising her ideas about love and relationships surfaces often in this collection; similar themes occur in both “Summer of Diane” and “The Shipswallower.” The protagonists of each, as in all of the stories in the collection, must wrestle with their developing feelings. However, it is not just the newness that the characters must deal with; they reflect, and act, reflect, and must act again.
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