First Advisor

Peter Carafiol

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in English






Norm, Greg Hrbek, Susan Sontag, American Short stories -- 20th century -- History and criticism, American Short stories -- 21st century -- History and criticism, American fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism, American fiction -- 21st century -- History and criticism, Characters and characteristics in literature -- History and criticism, Social Marginality in literature -- History and criticism



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 56 p.)


The focus of the present research work is the contemporary American short stories that bring up issues of compulsory norm and the conflict between marginalized characters and their environment. This research was based on those short stories that seemed to represent the idea of being "different" in the most complex and multilayered way, and its goal was to unfold new aspects of the conflict between "normal" and "abnormal"/"different". Variations of norm as well as diversity within the marginalized raise a number of questions about the reasons for their inability to coexist peacefully. The close reading and the analysis of the selected stories show that all the conflicts in them, in one way or another, repeat similar patterns and lead to the same root of the problem of misunderstanding, which is fear. To be more precise, all the cases of hate towards "different" characters can be explained by the hater's explicit or implicit fear of death in its various forms: inability to procreate one's own kind, cultural or personal self-identity loss, actual life threat in the form of a reminder of possible physical harm and death. Most often it would be the case where shame and fear of death overlap in a very complex way. In general, the cases of characters' otherness fall into three major groups. The nature of the alienation for each of these groups is described and analyzed in three separate chapters. Prejudice and stereotypes are playing a great role in formation of fears and insecurities which need to be dismantled in order to make peaceful coexistence possible. This work concludes with pointing out the crucial role of taking an approach of representation of various perspectives and diversification of voices in creative writing, academia and media in the context of multicultural society.


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Portland State University. Dept. of English

Persistent Identifier