Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Clark Davis, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Sarah Pessin, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Scott Howard

Fourth Advisor

Brian Kiteley


Catholic literature, Divine mystery, Existentialism, Flannery O'Connor, McCarthy, Walker Percy


According to Catholic literary theory, the novelist, like the Divine Mystery to a certain extent, creates her characters freely and free with the possibility and probability that they may speak against their creator and even finally rebel. This dissertation reflects upon the relative infiniteness of four literary authors - Flannery O'Connor, Mary McCarthy, Walker Percy, and Cormac McCarthy. In the three novels and one imaginative memoir considered in particular, these authors create their existentialist protagonists, who in their turn reflect the conditional existentialism of their creators. This dissertation, thus, seeks to resurrect, with modern sensibilities, the pre-renaissance and renaissance commonplace that the poet is a creator, and to examine how this schema figures into the Catholic belief that man is created in the Divine Mystery's image without a loss of human freedom. Celebrating this mystery of existence, Catholic literary theory suggests that the Catholic universe is for all at all times, and not only for those who identify themselves as Catholics. The value of this dissertation for the field of literary studies lies in that insofar as the poet and novelist has lost her identity as creating out of love because God, the Divine Mystery, created her out of love, then philosophy, history, theology, and literature, itself, are in mortal danger. This is the appeal that writers like O'Connor and Percy conscientiously make and writers like Mary McCarthy and Cormac McCarthy confirm despite themselves.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Jacob Patrick Pride


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

259 p.


American Literature, Philosophy, Theology