Date of Award
Master of Arts (M.A.)
First Committee Member
Most of the eight stories in this collection are about individuals who are alienated. They are unable or unwilling to break through the barriers that separate them from others. The stories are contemporary; the settings are urban/suburban. The past plays an important part in defining and limiting the present, and fantasy sometimes replaces reality as an option for dealing with the loneliness of isolation. Direct confrontation is another option. Desire for power and the need for assertiveness are important elements in the action of the stories. By contrast, retreat into submission may become the sad alternative.
The voices change with each story. An older man mourns the death of his wife. A young married woman contemplates her sterile marriage but is unable to extricate herself from her stereotypical role as wife. An old man tries to figure out how he can confront his nephew and his family about the values he thinks they lack. A young woman rejects a marriage that she feels will stifle her freedom but returns in middle age to try to understand what exactly she was fighting against. A young boy tries to understand his aunt and her husbands. A seedy middle-aged man dreams of an encounter with a woman of class. A woman who has been rejected by an old friend tries to comprehend the reasons for her friend's mental breakdown.
Some of the characters emerge triumphant to begin again; others are stalemated and accept the status quo; a few make tentative movements in the direction of change without knowing what the outcome will be.
Rice, Martha Kilgore. (1987). Figure eight : a collection of short stories. University of the Pacific, Thesis. https://scholarlycommons.pacific.edu/uop_etds/2139