Date of Award
The modern period of intergenerational strife between the aging-out Baby Boomers and the Millennials who have come forth to replace them in an infrastructure that cannot support them is a struggle that carries with it unique psychological implications ripe for literary exploration. Understanding these conflicts in a profound way is an important challenge to take on, and one which can, in my belief, be best achieved through literature. My work, a draft of a novel entitled Terrible Am I, Child?, is a family drama which takes the symbolic generational divide and uses it as a framework for exploring issues of gender, sexuality, family obligation, and memory. The novel follows protagonist Rhetta, a twenty-something college grad who grew up on the east coast, reuniting with her long-estranged, working-class father to take care of him when he falls ill. The central conflict revolves around the father and daughter trying to reconcile their differences and live in relative harmony despite social upheaval and diametrically-opposed ideologies. The research framework for this novel explores the intersection of genre (neorealism) and critical framework (psychoanalysis). The Electra Complex, the structure imbedded in the bones of the novel, symbolizes, as Jill Scott says in Electra After Freud: “A movement away from the universal and the masculine, away from the logic of the psyche to the realms of imagination and fiction” (Scott, 2005, pg. 10). The specific social milieu this story is set within influences the socio-political tensions in the story, and establishes a stark divide between the psychological world and the physical reality. This work ultimately strives to enter into the modern conversation of generational divides and ideological conflict by painting empathetic portraits of both sides, with the understanding that the reconciliation may very well never be achieved if the interior world is unchangeable.
Arnett, Camille, "Terrible Am I, Child?" (2020). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 516.