Date of Award
Campus Access Thesis
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
The stories in COPPER STATE join the literary conversation of what is means to be on the verge of womanhood in the early twenty-first century. These stories discuss how various external influences on the central characters can shape and change them. Thematic influences include financial burdens, the effects of poverty on the family unit, class systems and multicultural mingling, the working class, the propensity for self-destruction, and the need to transcend one’s station in life. The characters in COPPER STATE also exhibit obsessive behavior. Their acute focus on the external world is indicative of their need to replace what is emotionally missing in their lives. In this way the collection examines the various coping mechanisms of these female characters ranging from the ages of seven through twenty-seven. The most relevant coping mechanism examined in COPPER STATE is the need for companionship and compassion. Each character is missing someone important in their lives and this absence draws out the character’s motivation to reach for someone or something else to replace that relationship. What they reach for is largely based on what is available to them and most often comes with great physical and psychological risk to the characters.
Setting plays and instrumental role in expressing the declining emotional fitness of each character. Most of the stories in COPPER STATE take place in and around central Arizona. The title not only places them geographically in the cities and towns throughout Arizona, but also echoes the characters’ emotional states. Each character is acutely aware of their surroundings. Copper is a raw material capable of channeling the dangerous and potentially destructive elements of electricity and heat. Similarly, the characters in this collection often find themselves engaging in self-destructive behaviors as a means to manipulate their emotional interactions with the outside world. They become conduits of their own ruin.
Murphy, Jennifer Ellen, "COPPER STATE" (2016). Graduate Masters Theses. 378.