Thesis

The girl who loved Gable : a novel

The creative portion of this thesis is The Girl Who Loved Gable, a psychological detective novel. Set in Los Angeles in the present, the novel is a first person narrative. The central character is Leda Swann, a 30 year old female detective who is assigned a missing persons case involving a teenage runaway girl. Her search for the girl becomes a search for herself. In the tradition of the Oedipal detective, Leda is posed a riddle, and, like Oedipus, must undergo self discovery before she can arrive at its solution. Although The Girl Who Loved Gable derives its form from a popular genre, the detective novel, it utilizes literary techniques. One such element is the use of an unreliable first person narrator who is also the protagonist. The critical portion of this thesis is a study of the function of point of view as an element in the structure of the novel. Wayne Booth, in his essays on reliable commentary and reliable/unreliable narrators, stresses that there must be a character within the dramatic framework of the novel who can be trusted by the reader to function as a touchstone of objectivity. Booth overlooks an alternative structure. Both detective fiction and some modern novels are centered around a character who begins with limited or wrong knowledge and works his way through to truth. A series of epiphanies arising organically from the action of the novel bring the character and the reader to simultaneous revelation. Thus, in Willaim Styron's Sophie's Choice for example, discovering the objective truth becomes the central experience of the novel. The critical section of this thesis will address the question of whether Booth's touchstone is a prerequisite for a coherent novel, or if, by maintaining a Jamesian emphasis on dramatization, and by using the reader's experiences and expectations as a backdrop, the author can use an unreliable point of view to present a narrative that is "solved" as well as read.

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