Title

Night's End

Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Morris, Keith Lee

Committee Member

Thomas , Rhondda

Committee Member

Bushnell , Cameron

Abstract

The following work has two chapters; the first is a short story entitled 'Night's End,' and the second is a short essay entitled 'The Dilemma of Evil in Donald Ray Pollock's 'Dynamite Hole.'' 'Night's End' is loosely based on a true story. To respect the parties involved, I will not mention their names. The events are fictional, and deal with people's potential for corrosive, immoral action. The story depicts an evening in the life of Jennie Weston, a woman whose husband has cheated on her and left home. Her daughter, Becky, runs away soon thereafter to live with her boyfriend, a drug dealer. Jennie's only hope in life is her daughter, and her mission is to get her back from the hands of the dealer, in any way possible. Occurring over the span of only a few hours, 'Night's End' is a bullet, a story of tragedy. And hope. In the critical essay, 'The Dilemma of Evil in Donald Ray Pollock's 'Dynamite Hole,'' I introduce an apparatus for reading 'Dynamite Hole' (and other stories containing graphic and grotesque plots) through the lens of Julia Kristeva's notion of the abject and Fred Alford's conception of evil. The apparatus proposes one way to read 'Dynamite Hole,' and by extension, my story as well. The key word is 'one.' I don't want to force a perspective. Yet I maintain that the apparatus is a useful device that assists in understanding the powerful effects of evil as represented in fiction. Ultimately, 'Night's End' is edgy, raw, and lurid, but it does not surpass the debauchery of Pollock's writing, specifically 'Dynamite Hole.' I used his story as a check on how far I wanted to go as a writer confronting morally profound, artistic decisions. Should I push the limits and make 'Night's End' as violent as possible, or should I tone it down? I chose the latter. Stories such as 'Dynamite Hole,' with sinister actions including murder and rape, can be used to monitor my own writings. I don't want to go as far as Pollock. By withstanding, I am able to present hope.

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