All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Lawrence Wharton

Advisory Committee Members

Sue Kim

Christopher Metress

Stacy Tintocalis

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


This is a collection—one personal essay and three short stories. In these works, I explore the concept of anger and identity and how these components create tension within the traditional immediate family framework. As I wrote, I continually asked myself a very specific question—a question that I wanted the thesis that follows to provide an answer for: can one maintain his or her identity while still fulfilling the responsibilities of being a father, son, husband, or wife? I begin this collection with an intensely personal essay entitled, “Name- Calling.” Set against the background of a fantastical assassination attempt on George Steinbrenner, this essay is about me coming to terms with the anger that once dominated my life—the anger that led me to drugs and violence and alienated me from my parents, particularly from my father. Even though my father is only mentioned once, this essay is, in large part, about my passion for baseball—the game my father taught me to play and love. I wanted this essay to demonstrate how I’m trying to become a better man by channeling my rage into a creative endeavor: writing. The second piece in the collection is “Everywhere Lonely,” a short story about a soon-to-be-divorced couple with a tumultuous past. In this story, Billy Wayne, the husband, is angry that his wife, Kathryn Donnelly, left him after he got out of prison. Billy Wayne, like me, prefers his solitude, but a late night visit from Kathryn helps him realize something important: his marriage was sham. I iii have unformed opinions about marriage, but I am scared of it and believe, as Billy Wayne believes, that a large part of one’s identity is often sacrificed for the good of the marriage. The third piece is called “Virginia is a Different Country.” In this story, Virginia Clementine, who refuses to marry the father of her only son, joins the Army Reserves on her son’s twelfth birthday. The story takes place in a small, Southern town in 1990, just before Iraqi’s invasion of Kuwait. Told through the viewpoint of Simon, Virginia’s son, the story is about trying to keep a family together when a key member wants out. It is about a boy struggling to understand his mother’s unwillingness to marry his father, her disdain of conformity. The last piece is “Five O’Clock Lightning.” In this story, a middle-aged Algebra teacher enlists the help of his depressed son to try out for a professional baseball team. Like the characters in the other stories, Jim Tate, the father, and Simon Tate, the son, are struggling to find their true identities; they’re struggling to understand how difficult it is to maintain a father/son relationship. Ultimately, this collection is my attempt to define myself within my own family. I see the characters struggles as my own. I see me in them. I see me trying to define myself by defining them. I see me trying to define the world—a world in which family really is the most important thing.



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