Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Steven P. Faulkner, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mary Carroll-Hackett, M.F.A.

Third Advisor

Chene Heady, Ph.D.


This collection of essays seeks to explore the need for redemption as a necessary element of the Human Condition, by exploring my experiences as a child, adolescent, teen, and adult. Throughout the collection of essays, I, as the central character of the work, am conditioned by my physical deformity (a massive scar on my stomach) to question my life, values, and relationships. I establish for myself a destructive pattern that nearly ends my marriage. These destructive patterns eventually become touchstones through which I finally come to terms with who I am, what I am, and the truth that my existence is not defined by my body, though I try to prove otherwise. The scar works as a metaphor: it is a mark—an embossing—that is a result of an involuntary catastrophe, the complications of my birth. As the collection of essays progresses, I show how other events in my life have further scarred me: the death of loved ones, coming to terms with aging, infertility. Eventually, I self-destruct. In “Green Again,” I explore the tumult of my infidelity, wounding my wife. The irony of my decision is that I have hurt her, and thereby left her with an emotional scar, perhaps worse than the one I have loathed throughout my life—physical scars can be removed. It is finally though emotional and spiritual healing that I come to terms with my outer, physical self.

The importance of relationships, as well as the desire for fatherhood, is further explored in my career as a teacher. The personas of “Scarred,” “Clipping a Bonsai Tree,” and “Father Less,” for example, admit to the attempt of fatherly acts while exploring the passion I have to see students succeed. My experiences as a teacher contrast those of my actions as a husband. Fittingly, it is my wife who, in “Bonsai,” encourages me to admit the truth for the benefit of my career and for those whom I teach. In some of the last essays, “Blocked” and “Green Again,” the scar causes more physical problems that will require an abdominal reconstruction—and an eventual removal of the scar, while I take extreme measures to have my heart healed and, as a result, my marriage restored. The resolution to physical pain, I discover, is in spiritual renewal. The final essay, “Faulting the Stars,” is a realization: my wife’s cancer scare has renewed my commitment to her. It is this final experience that brings clarity and prospective.

Included in

Nonfiction Commons



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