Date of Award:

2012

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

English

Advisor/Chair:

Christopher Cokinos

Abstract

This thesis consists of a critical introduction followed by a novel told in twentyfive chapters. The novel begins in the first person with the eighteen-year-old protagonist Kirtland Grant beginning a summer job as a door-to-door pest control salesman in Florida. Trained using Mormon missionary techniques, his office of relocated Utah boys, all of them Mormon, dodge angry homeowners and evade police in gated communities while insects root the brand-new houses from below and corrupt banking pushes the region toward collapse. With his departure date for a two-year Mormon mission looming at summer’s end, Kirt delves into Mormon doctrine and attempts to solidify his spiritual faith through a salesman’s experiment in finding God. As Kirt redoubles his efforts in faith and in sales in order to earn enough money to fund his mission, he finds himself in ethically dubious positions and comes to understand the questionable practices of the company for whom he has been selling. He simultaneously struggles to comprehend his own sexuality, and a sexual run-in with a young woman, which Kirt interprets as serious sin, triggers additional trauma and spiritual flailing. God does not commune with Kirt in any way Kirt can comprehend, and as the novel ends he is beaten, alone, but nevertheless, alive. Perhaps most critically, he has effectively quit his position in the pest control company and made a failed attempt at reconnecting with the young woman. The novel is an embodiment of the nature of belief, and examines our reliance on each other’s faith to prop up our own, whether it be faith in housing markets, pest control products, or God.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on May 11, 2012.