Graduate Studies


Date of this Version

Spring 4-3-2013

Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Jonis Agee. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Danielle C. Metcalf


Afterburn is set in Elton, a fictional rural town in Nebraska. The two protagonists, Jaclyn and Netia, are sisters (ages twenty-two and sixteen) who set their house on fire, burning their alcoholic mother alive. While the sheriff and townspeople suspect that the fire is not an accident, they choose to turn a blind eye. Meanwhile, Jaclyn discovers the dead woman was not her real mother and seeks to unravel secrets about her past the town is hiding while simultaneously fighting to gain custody of her younger sister. When Netia seeks and is awarded emancipation from the state behind her sister’s back, she leaves town in search of Jaclyn’s real mother, finding her grandmother instead. Left behind in Elton, Jaclyn is forced to come to terms with her fear of being alone and the repercussions of the desperate choices she has made in her attempt to protect and control her sister. When Netia returns with Jaclyn’s grandmother, the sisters and the town come together to lay their mother’s ashes to rest in a scene of confession and reconciliation.

Advisor: Jonis Agee