Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Duncan B Barlow


Do we, as an audience, gravitate toward apocalyptic settings to connect with outlying characters that defy the odds to survive the impossible? Or is it instead to fantasize about what we would do without societal norms, without rules, and without anything to hold us back. In my writing, I endeavor to walk the line of absolute bleakness and hopeful change while focusing on the compassion forged through friendship. Literary critics have long argued that society oppresses the lower class through laws, social upbringing, and cultural institutes. In youth a struggle forms within us between how we want our true selves to be and how society wants us to be. Looking at things in a different way, perhaps without having to worry about society oppressing us, we yearn to be the hero of our own story. In the dystopian genre, the freedom of action is constrained by the threat of some malevolent or natural force. In both of my stories, the main protagonist struggles against an oppressive malevolent force that tries to constrain them. This ties in with my own life experience of being a victim of bullying throughout my pre-college years. Similarly, in human history there seems to be a constant trend of those in power oppressing those without power. From colonialism all the way up to totalitarianism and the resulting dystopia, the pattern repeats itself. The dystopian genre is both a place of dismal bleakness, as well as an inward reflection on the choices made throughout our lives. Why are humans so cruel to one another? Why is bullying so prevalent in society? Is there any hope for humanity’s future? These are all questions I try to answer throughout my thesis.

Subject Categories

Creative Writing


Cormac McCarthy, Dystopia, Thomas More

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota