Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Mary Carroll-Hackett, MFA

Second Advisor

Steven Faulkner, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Susan Stinson, MFA


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the impact different people, specifically men, life situations and choices have had on developing a feminine, or not so feminine, outlook on the woman I have become. In order to analyze myself, it became necessary to recall some of the major incidences that have helped to define me; this analysis then created a need to embrace honest truth. I say honest truth because I had developed a version of truth that allowed me to be comfortable and accepting of myself, but honest truth required me to dig deeper than the glossy version of me that I presented to the world. Many of the essays in this collection directly and indirectly point to my father as a key character. I struggled with capturing an accurate version of him without making excuses or allowances for him. By focusing on both his attributes as well as his flaws, I was able to assess the powerful influence he had on my life outlook, some of the standards I still hold dear, in addition to the ones I now reject. I think the contrast between the lessons my father taught me and the choices he made in his own lite represent the struggle many women have between admiring, loving, hating, disapproving of and accepting the men in their lives. In other essays, I examined how the complications of my father-daughter relationship have spilled over into my personal relationships or lack thereof. I looked to two main authors, Mary Karr and Nuala O'Faolain, to develop my craft because my struggle with capturing scene verses summary proved the most arduous task I encountered. My writing process became a process of blurting out the basic storyline on to paper-- the rehearsed, safe, glossy version, followed then by a painful, detail-recalling search for how the individuals - my family, friends, and co-workers - interacted with me and impacted me in order to make my history. My essays are about a mid-life look at the woman I am, in order to be able to work toward becoming a more complete woman -- one who is able to accept love. The questions I asked myself are universal, so I hope these essays will serve as a jumping off point for readers to question their own lives and embrace the truth of their histories.



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