Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA English




John P. Wargacki, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Russell Sbriglia, Ph.D.


"individuation" "personality development" "Delia Owens" "Harper Lee"


Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (1960) and Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing (2018), set in the 1930s and 1960s, respectively, portray coming of age stories narrated from the points of view of two female protagonists, Scout and Kya. In Mockingbird, Lee conveys Scout’s maturation via a first-person narrative, recounting the events she witnesses between 1933 and 1935 as a linear flashback when she is an adult, whereas Owens conveys maturation in Crawdads, which happens over the course of Kya’s life, from a roving third-person narrative point of view, between 1952 and 2009. Both novels immerse the young protagonists in communities impacted by social phenomena, such as racism, prejudice, gender-norms, and the marital complex, all of which have a profound impact upon their lives and, subsequently, the personalities they develop as a result. Both only six years old at the onset of each novel, Mockingbird’s Jean Louise (“Scout”) Finch, and Crawdads’ Catherine Danielle (“Kya”) Clark negotiate societies and their own values in order to obtain a share of power, and reject the metaphorical and material subjugation that normally attends paradigms inherent to the Deep South in the 1930s and 1960s. Lee and Owens utilize narrative points of view, in conjunction with symbols and images that function as objects for the projection of Scout’s and Kya’s psychic energy, to portray the struggles of young protagonists subject to morally challenging social phenomena, and to comment on how interactions with social and cultural values can both reflect and inform identity and personality development, broadly.