Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Mary Carroll-Hackett, M.F.A

Second Advisor

Steven Faulkner, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

David Magill, Ph.D.


The purpose of this thesis is to shed light on the lifestyle and struggles of poor, country people. In my collection of short stories, Mirror Image and Other Stories, I write working-class characters who must learn to survive while working at low-paying jobs. Many of these stories examine how frequently poor, country people are viewed by society as under-educated or unattractive due to their dialect or wardrobe, and how much of a negative effect these miss-perceptions can have on the individual. Often, my characters decide through their actions, to negotiate their beliefs, desires, obligations and selves as a way to feel accepted. Some of them must learn that rather than abandon or be ashamed of their familial bonds or culture, they must embrace their families and the landscape and find healing in what they know. In "High Heels and Pocketknives," Keni demonstrates these struggles. As a teacher, she gives in to the requests of her boss to change her wardrobe and teach a specific way, even though the requests box her in and make her feel uncomfortable. Kerri also feels inferior to her mother-in-law due to class and misperceptions. It takes the innocence of Kerri 's child to understand that the pain and isolation they all feel is the same regardless of age or class, and that the bond of family is the only thing that can help them heal and cope. With this thesis, I strive to capture the lives of poor, country people so that they are not lost forever. I have learned that I must write these characters' stories in their own voices in the same way Lawrence Naumoff does-no matter how broken or fragile his characters appear, he does not try to protect them, but acknowledges their need to speak their own stories. I hope that with these characters by my side, I can one day learn to fully love and accept myself and experience the freedom that comes with letting go of class and social anxieties.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.