Theses and Dissertations

From Sandstone to Grindstone

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Committee Chair

Caleb Johnson, MFA


From Sandstone to Grindstone investigates the environment in which my father became the sort of man who would literally work himself to death to support the people he loved. While the characters are fictional, their adventures are all in some way inspired by the stories he used to tell of his childhood in West Virginia, and the protagonist, Johnny, is named after my father and embodies all of the characteristics I believe he would have had in his formative years. While there is no single definitive answer to why he worked so hard, the one theme that each story seems to come back to is that of accountability—living with the consequences of one’s actions. In each story, one or more of the characters is faced with a life-changing decision and each character deals with the emotional aftermath in a different way. Some characters respond in overtly negative ways, by behaving recklessly or even losing their grip on reality. But for Johnny, those emotions are concentrated into an irrepressible drive to do right by the people he loves, even if it means sacrificing himself.

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