Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Rosalie Murphy Baum, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Metzger, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Clune, Ph.D.


Tate, South, Chasm, Self, Family


There is a thread of darkness that seems to run through much of the canon of U.S. authors. There are, at the heart of us all, the questions we ask ourselves about who we are and what we mean to ourselves and others and to the places where we have lived. I believe that most of the body of writings produced in this country attempt to answer these questions in some form. Allen Tate wrote The Fathers in 1932, nearly seventy years after the Civil War, or the War Between the States. Perhaps one of the most critical moments in the process of how we became modern Americans, this period of history still resonates within our understanding. Tate, who was a Virginian and a Southerner, sought to understand what the South was and what it meant to modern America. The South became Tate's literary construct, a construct that included the abyss he would have to search. My belief is that Tate's South is an abyss which contains the answers to our questions of identity. The Fathers deals with identity through family and social structures in a changing South. Many may not be familiar with the world of the Civil War South that Tate was examining. Tate shows that depths of blackness can be found in the institutions of humans as well as in the natural world.