Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Steven Faulkner, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Mary Carroll-Hackett, M.F.A.

Third Advisor

Chene Heady, Ph.D.


The blending of illusion and reality is the most prominent theme in the thesis. A mirror is the introductory metaphor for m perception of self and God; it reflects reality, bur does not capture internal conflict. As a character in the work, I internalize others' truths to create my persona; my narrative stance reflects my disconnected, dispassionate view of reality. The cold, stark church building serves as the metaphor for church members' treatment of my family under the guise of religious authority. Elementary school classmates' actions blend with those of men in my dating life to affect this persona and I adapt to meet their expectations, whether consciously in the David Leohr relationship , or subconsciously in my behavior's change as a result of classmates' bullying. In my adolescence, I create an ideal man from books; that ideal colors the reality of the dating relationships I pursue. My persona shifts when real men shatter that ideal. My perception of God in the first several chapters informs my later choices until I am forced to accept that substitutes such as men, alcohol, and self do not replace His truth. My sister's efforts to escape a spoiled marriage are misunderstood by church leaders. The deacons of my father's church pronounce judgement on my sister because hers does not qualify for their version of an acceptable Biblical divorce. My belief that my sister is more privileged because her marriage was the root of my jealous, selfish behavior through her divorce. My father is betrayed by the illusion of his parishioner's loyalty, and, when he suffers a heart attack because of the stress of twenty years in the church ministry, his family is left to support him. The end of the thesis focuses on me at the Grand Canyon as the final metaphor for my current clarity.

The influence of family and the importance of choice serve as motifs to this theme. I choose opinions, worldviews, and spiritual truths based o my perception of others and self. The deacons' decision to bring my sister to church discipline and to fire my father shapes our family's spiritual, personal, and relational development. These decisions also affect my own developing identity. In the end, my destructive choices are balanced by healthy ones because I have learned to accept God's truth rather than a substitute.



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