First Advisor

Diana Abu-Jaber

Term of Graduation

Fall 2000

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in English







Physical Description

1 online resource (294 pages)


This novel explores the everyday lives of two blue-collar workers Levi and Cressida -over the course of one summer in a rural fruit processing plant. The main protagonists exhibit contrasting forms of faith and courage, which drives their divergent fates.

Levi is a soul-searching twenty-five-year-old high school dropout who feels extraordinary obligation to family and is engaged to his pregnant girlfriend. Although Levi's father wants him to stay home and take over the family's strawberry farm, he intends to amass the courage to return to school and get a degree in agronomy.

In contrast, Cressida is a twenty-year-old senior in astronomy who is driven by a personal code of honor but misguided by a flawed definition of courage. Confused by her father's philandering and her mother's alcoholism, Cressida loses touch with her dream of becoming an astronaut and finds a dubious stability in her relationship with an unhappily married supervisor, Richard.

Over the course of the summer, while Cressida struggles to believe in Richard's mercurial promise of marriage, she pursues various excesses as convenient forms of escape, which send her into a decidedly downward spiral.

Contrastingly, Levi steadily pulls himself upward. After his girlfriend's miscarriage and sudden departure, he resolves to take advantage of his second chance. Guided by intense resolve and a viable definition of courage, Levi focuses on leaving the plant behind, while consistently discouraging Cressida's ostensible friendship with Richard, who he believes to be craven and lacking conviction.

In the end, the self-centered Richard coldly informs Cressida that things are over between them. Trying to cope with the unanticipated betrayal, Cressida flees with coworkers to a favorite party spot on a trestle where she inadvertently slips to her death.

Cressida' s untimely end is rooted in the convergence between the momentum of bad decision-making and the capricious nature of external forces. Levi, having successfully faced the various demons that had held him down, leaves the farm for the valley university in order to pursue his dream of becoming an agronomist.


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