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Decline and fall

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Decline and fall

Carbert, Michael (2009) Decline and fall. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Decline and Fall tells the story of Matthew Roberts, a first year high school English teacher working in Caribou, a small mill and mining town on the north shore of Lake Superior. While struggling to adapt to his new circumstances, Matthew finds himself increasingly isolated and forced to confront the possibility that the ideals which motivated him to enter the teaching profession are obsolete in a time and place where formal education and literature have little value. The novel seeks to portray the conflict between Matthew's aspirations and a compromised educational system that has lost all integrity. Helping to dramatize this conflict are three other major characters. Amy Kimball is a troubled yet gifted young woman, a student in Matthew's grade ten English class who shares his enthusiasm for books and learning and who is regarded as a "freak" by most of her fellow students. Her mother, Donna, a custodian at the school, is a person of a completely different sort, a boozing, dope smoking, motorcycle driving woman who is increasingly frustrated by her daughter's eccentric behaviour and high ideals. Bill Brecker, Caribou High School's interim vice-principal, must accept the fact that the mode of education which he had worked to preserve for decades is giving way to a new progress and learning. It could be postulated that a fifth character in this novel is the high school itself. The physical setting of the school and the behaviour of its students are described in detail, revealing a learning environment which is anything but wholesome and nurturing. Set against a backdrop of labour unrest and a looming teachers' strike, the novel seeks to highlight serious moral and cultural concerns in a manner reminiscent of Mordecai Richler's Cocksure, Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts, and, of course, Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Carbert, Michael
Pagination:iv, 213 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:English
Date:2009
Thesis Supervisor(s):Sterns, A
ID Code:976329
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:23
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:42
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