Term of Award

Winter 2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

Caren Town

Committee Member 1

David Dudley

Committee Member 2

Douglass Thomson


This thesis aims to highlight the ways participation in athletics promote greater physical, psychological, and social health for adolescents in Chris Crutcher’s fiction. In his novels, Ironman and Whale Talk, published in 1995 and 2001 respectively, Crutcher uses athletically minded protagonists and the teams which form around them to display the benefits of being involved in athletics, especially team sports. In Ironman, a mandatory high school anger management group embodies all the aspects of team support and camaraderie in their attempt to assist Bo in achieving his athletic goals. Crutcher’s Whale Talk depicts the ways that official team participation can help adolescents to learn to be better people; making them better citizens as they become adults. Sports has become neglected as a subject in powerful literature, but Chris Crutcher’s work combines athletics and quality fiction which speaks to adolescents and adults alike.