Domestic space in the short fiction of Andre Dubus
Edenfield, Olivia Carr
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This project explores the theme of domestic space in the development of the American short story and in the short fiction of Andre Dubus. The first chapter begins with an overview of Dubus’ career and then defines the idea and its connection to his work. Familial relations are central to Dubus’ fiction, and his conclusions link him to other significant short story writers. The second chapter is a survey of American short fiction and the prominence of family environment in the genre. A metaphor central to the nation’s consciousness, home becomes a sanctuary against the rapidly changing landscape. At the same time, characters must explore the possibilities around them. As the short story has developed, the motif has reflected a dual perception of home. The dominant struggle has been finding a balance between containment and expansion. Within this framework, the home has been a trope for protagonists and their different domestic circumstances. The third chapter focuses on Dubus’ women who for various reasons find themselves in restrictive places. These characters are static, unable to act or to move out of their pain due to violence that has been inflicted upon them. They find themselves ultimately trapped by their own limitations. The fourth chapter gives an alternative view as these women are able to transcend their problems by redefining themselves. Though temporarily held back or forced to make modifications in order to deal with crises, they make the necessary changes to move on with productive lives. The fifth chapter focuses on men in Dubus’ fiction who have to renegotiate their connection to their families and their residence. Some are so shattered by tragedy that they are cut off from any future sense of domestic peace. Others are able to push past their dislocation to build new sanctuaries. The concluding chapter is a study of Dancing After Hours. This work is an appropriate ending to a career that celebrates the healing power of the human heart in connection with another. In the cycle stories, the protagonists reach peace after years of struggling to find ground in the confusion of the postmodern world. Likewise, the satellite stories work to reinforce the movement towards healing.