English, Department of


The 'I' of My Story

David C. Madden, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Document Type Article

A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Jonis Agee. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2010
Copyright (c) 2010 David C. Madden


The narrators in these eight stories all use the first-person point of view as a means of character-building—both in terms of the literal roles as narrators, and also in a more therapeutic sense. Borrowing from the confessional and self-protective tropes of the memoir, these narrators speak in their own distinct voices in order to figure out what their lives mean. Jim, in "Go Pitt," discusses his job as a chemist and his lifelong football fandom as a way to understand his HIV-positive status. The group of people who compositely narrate "Beekeeping" continually shift their focus among one another rather than place it on their friend’s leukemia. The unnamed narrator in "If You Need Me I'll Be over There" tries to figure out his place in the world, and in his family, over the weekend of his grandmother’s funeral. In each story, I exploit the small but vital distance, in the first-person point of view, between narrator and character to reveal to the reader the depths and contradictions of selfhood that first-person narrators usually try to hide.