Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Thomas Didato


PLIGHT AND PASSION By Lisa B. Williams A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2014. Major Director: Dr. John McCown, Professor of English, English Department. The goal of this thesis is to bring to life the countless stories of oppression, perseverance, and hope of African-Americans during the early twentieth century. I used two settings, the rural South and the industrialized North, to reflect the different challenges of surviving and thriving during times of segregation. Buck Carrington, in Part I of the novel that is set in Virginia, is forced to confront not only his own personal demons of lust and intemperance, but also the vices of hatred and racism. In the end, he loses everything. His wife, Helen, decides to leave Buck, and she ventures to the city, to Harlem, which is the setting for Part II of this novel. As a woman with no education, she must forge a path to independence by working hard and attaining an education, and incidentally, she finds love and self-confidence in the process. I used dialect and vivid description to characterize each protagonist, Buck as wild and hot-tempered, and Helen as reserved and shy, but strong-willed. I also used historical references and allusions to place the reader in the time period and to bring the many facets of African American culture and values to life.


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