Date of Award

Fall 12-13-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Josh Russell

Second Advisor

John Holman

Third Advisor

Sheri Joseph

Abstract

The Long Division is a novel that applies some conventions and tropes of the noir fiction genre to tell a story from the points of view of five individuals whose fates are interconnected through the narrative. Jodie Larkin is an Atlanta housecleaner who, fed up with her thankless job, hits the road with stolen cash, desperate to reconnect with the son she gave up for adoption. That son is Calvin Nowak, a teenager eager to escape an adoptive family that he feels can never understand him. He and Jodie embark on a runaway quest to discover the source of his pain. Their journey will take them to small town New York, where Calvin’s biological father, Sam Hartwick, is secretly tracking the shooter in a double murder case that will test his reputation and his faith in redemption. That killer is Wynn Johnston, a college student gifted and tortured, who clings to his bright academic prospects while hunted by vengeful criminals, police, and his own demons. He strikes up a desperate relationship with Erika Hartwick, Sam Harwick’s legitimate daughter, just as Sam’s illegitimate son Calvin and one-time lover Jodie arrive in town and instigate a climactic confrontation between all the perspective characters.

The novel explores the value of family and how it can be tested by extreme circumstances, especially in paradoxical or ironic context where family is founded on, or broken apart by, characters flaws that threaten the stability of family itself. Likewise, it explores whether certain family relationships can or should be repaired, and the motives and morality of individuals when they support or subvert family dynamics.

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