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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Trueblood, Kathryn R., 1960-

Second Advisor

Magee, Kelly, 1976-

Third Advisor

Brown, Nicole R.


In this collection of short stories, the main linking character is Shayla Collins, an independent woman who feels strapped in a second marriage with a husband who mistreats her son, Elliott, from a previous marriage and rapidly plows the family into debilitating debt. As a result, how she reacts to and interacts with others is affected. Each piece follows her through a different stage in her life with different people in her life, but especially with her two children, Elliott and Kelsey. The collection spans from Shayla's troubled marriage to the apparitions that appear in her middle age. Oftentimes the journey through the life of a woman with children, married or not, is fraught with obstacles and communication is challenging. And communication is essential to Shayla's understanding of the events taking place in her life, and is a major theme of the collection. Shayla struggles with her divorce; with helping her daughter, Kelsey, through the divorce; with familial riffs that prevent her from having a normal relationship with her grandmother. When Shayla is in a life threatening accident, she is forced to become a better communicator with her then teenage children, and to understand the doubt and unhappiness in her own life. Shayla lives in fear of criticism and of being controlled which leads to isolation and depravation. In the words of Dorothy Allison, "though it will not always make us happy to read of the dark and dangerous places in our lives, the impact of our reality is the best we can ask". Or as Shayla herself perceives it, "she didn't know if she'd been shoved in the way, or rescued." Revelations follows Shayla as different parts of her character are exposed in each subsequent story. It is revealed to Shayla through her encounters with family and others that in order to move forward, she must claim her own voice. The authors Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, and Tillie Olsen have influenced this body of work through their strong characters, haunting images in unusual situations, and the contemplative narratives inherent in their work.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Women--Family relationships--Fiction




masters theses




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