Author

Kerin Flatley

Date of Award

4-21-2009

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Sheri Joseph - Chair

Second Advisor

Josh Russell

Third Advisor

John Holman

Abstract

ABSTRACT Granite Butterfly is a novel about three women—grandmother, mother, and daughter—and the unusual attachments that break apart their family. Tuula Laine is a Rockport, Massachusetts, native of Finnish descent, whose parents moved to Cape Ann for work in the area’s granite quarries. Her life changes one afternoon when her son Henri, a brilliant surgeon who has never seriously dated anyone before, visits with his pregnant girlfriend, Coreen. Tuula immediately senses that Coreen not the right match for him in terms of age, education, or temperament, and as the couple separates and unites over the course of one summer, Tuula witnesses, for the first time, the pattern of desire and abandonment that will define their relationship. By the time Tuula’s granddaughter, Suvi, is fourteen years old, she, too, has established a destructive relationship pattern with Coreen: whenever Coreen and Henri separate, Suvi’s mother clings to her until they develop a bond closer to that of sisters than a mother and child. In the final movement of the novel, this bond, and the bond between Suvi’s parents, is finally put to the test. Granite is cut into precise blocks—dynamite is never used, lest it shatter the stone. In a few short weeks, the Laine family is pulled apart, but unlike with quarrying, there is no way to divide them in a careful manner, no way to detach them that isn’t violent and abrupt, no way to predict, or guide, where they will split.

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