Date of Award

12-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

Program

English

First Advisor/Chairperson

Jon Billman

Second Advisor

Monica McFawn

Abstract

This work is an excerpt of a larger novel in progress that closely follows the journey of the main character, Charlie, who is hitchhiking from the Chicago suburbs to California in order to spread his mother’s ashes. It takes inspiration from the traditional American road trip novels, while following a contemporary narrative that dives into the main character’s judgmental attitude toward his fellow human. The story highlights his character growth with tips for hitchhiking that Charlie directs toward the audience sporadically throughout the piece. Charlie happens to be gay. A conscious decision was made to not highlight his sexual orientation, but allow the reader to see clear evidence of it in order to normalize this human experience without the character revolving around that singular trait. The road trip novel model offers a unique opportunity to use multiple side characters in order to pull out honest dialogue, varied experiences, and display human growth in a way that cannot be achieved in a stationary setting.

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