Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Literature

Committee Chair

Caren Town

Committee Member 1

Olivia Carr Edenfield

Committee Member 2

Timothy Whelan


This thesis explores the treatment of disabled characters by their family and communities in 19th and 20th - century American literature. The three works being evaluated are, The Monster (1898) by Stephen Crane, The Sound and The Fury (1928) by William Faulkner, and Of Mice and Men (1937) by John Steinbeck. Although The Sound and The Fury and Of Mice and Men contain a white disabled character, The Monster details the disfiguration of an African American man. In The Monster, race exacerbates the community’s response to the disfigured Henry Johnson, compared to Lennie in Of Mice and Men, and Benji in The Sound and the Fury. The physical manifestation of the character's disability is inflated to form a grotesque image that associates the disabled body with animal-like characteristics. The mistreatment the men face involves abuse, neglect, infantilization, and the ostracization they experience from those around them. This thesis addresses the connection these novellas have to the 19th and early 20th-century American Eugenics Movement and its affiliation with the portrayal of disabled characters.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material