Ouellette, G. J. (2022). Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: Personhood and Narrative Form. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2674
Human or animal? Major or minor? Foreign or familiar? For better or for worse, categorization is part of how we make sense of the world, the result of assessing similarities and differences in order to form discrete groups. This thesis endeavors to break categorization down by understanding the construction of personhood through narrative form, that is, how a story’s form and characterization can constitute a human being. This exploration examines the functions of categories like human and non-human, questions their soundness, and ultimately, helps to elucidate narrative’s power to shape perception. The thesis consists of three chapters, each of which centers around a specific novel: Moby- Dick; Or, The Whale (1851), The Time Machine (1895), and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968). These three very different novels are united by their complex narrative form and their commitment to categorizing and recategorizing their characters. Each narrative characterizes humans, non-humans, and the variations in between. The three books are also roughly a half century apart from one another, allowing for the appreciation of how the relationship between narrative form and personhood evolves over time.