Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

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

First Advisor

Barbara Wilcots


Literature, Society, Community, Healing


While previous scholarship holds that the trickster figure is a marginal figure on the outskirts of a society, this study reexamines that interpretation and proposes a new way to look at the trickster and its relationship with the community. Specifically, the texts considered—Toni Morrison’s Sula, Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada, Eric Gansworth’s Smoke Dancing, and Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water—are out of African American and Native American traditions respectively. The communities and tricksters within these four novels exhibit different types of communal relationships. In this study I present the idea of internally focused communities and externally focused communities, both of which determine how the trickster behaves within the community. Sula and Smoke Dancing act as insular texts, with their communities internally focused and their tricksters mediating intra-communal conflicts to heal the communities’ wounds. Flight to Canada and Green Grass, Running Water act as expansive texts, with their communities externally focused and their tricksters mediating the relationships between their own communities and the dominant cultures of the outside world in order to restore balance and begin a healing process.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. This work may only be accessed by members of the University of Denver community. The work is provided by permission of the author for individual research purposes only and may not be further copied or distributed. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Ashley Argyle


Received from author

File Format




File Size

387 pgs