Thesis Title

Skin And Smoke

Date of Graduation

Summer 2016


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Richard Neumann


hero, myth, identity, homelessness, fragmentation, polyphony

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


My thesis consists of the first ten chapters of a horror novel, entitled Skin and Smoke. My novel focuses on the character of Violet Masterson and her attempts to create her own identify and reconcile with her family's past actions. Violet lives in the small, recently unincorporated town of Nuovita in central Washington. Following her grandmother's death, she must face the paranormal events occurring in Nuovita, while her father leaves on an unknown journey. My thesis addresses themes of loss, identity, and revenge. In Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he proposes that the monomyth ends with the hero returning home with the "elixir of life" and earning the "freedom to live." That is, he is able to preserve a way of life, and learn to master the world he left at the beginning of the journey. Campbell's hero returns to a comfortable, solid place, content in the knowledge he has gained and his place in society. However, as Campbell notes, the time of such heroes has passed. The journey of the monomyth, he believes, is now an internal one: a quest for ordinary individuals to find and master their role in life. In Skin and Smoke, I use the structure of a heroic journey to question the feasibility of such an ending. Rather than returning home, the story moves toward postmodern fragmentation and alienation as well as the transcendental homelessness described by Georg Lukacs.


© Kelly Anne Baker

Open Access