Melanie Allen

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Pat Carr, Nancy Davis, George McCelvey

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Bobbie Ann Mason uses her fiction to portray the problems in American society. She devotes most of her time to average persons who are suffering from the rapid changes that society is going through. These characters at times seem lost and helpless, but ultimately they do not give up hope for a brighter future. Through social problems such as divorce, lack of communication, loss of identity and place, obsession with the past, submersion in rock music and TV, loss of ritual, proliferation of objects, lack of education, and the need to face mortality, these characters still seem to have hope and strength. There are serious problems to deal with, but there is also a future that can possibly bring better times if the problems can be solved successfully.

But Mason's world is not completely pessimistic and not all of her characters are miserable. Many of them take advantage of the changes in society, and improve their lives. Also, there are still positive values left. They are not as obvious, but they are still there if a person takes the time to look. Not everything has changed for the worse. For example, Mason seems to suggest later marriages. Early marriages lead to discontentment and more

than an abundance of problems, and most of Mason's characters who married younp. are very dissatisfied with their lives. Mason also stresses the fact that most people have the freedom of choice since people no longer have to behave in a certain manner, and society is more accepting than it once was. Mason also points out the peace and contentment that can be found with the land. She says as well that simplicity many times is preferable to the "technological advances" that have driven people to large cities where everyone seems the same, and she Insists that there are still small towns and contented people who inhabit them. Other positive qualities are the fact that we have the opportunity to receive an education, and we still have humor. We can look at the mistakes we have made and find humor in them as well as learn from them. Mason also seems to retain the hope that changes will keep occurring, that people still care enough to fight for a better, less problem-filled life. In subtle ways, Mason's fiction is optimistic.


English Language and Literature | Literature in English, North America | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology