Kathryn E. Bucolo '14, Gettysburg College

English Honors Thesis

First Place - 2014 Stephen Crane Fiction Prize


The collection of short stories I have written focuses on how people process (or do not process) tragedy, especially as related to themes of grief, memory, and faith. Most of the stories I have written are dysfunctional narratives in that they do not necessarily provide solid conclusions or solutions for the characters or readers, reflecting current trends in literature to move away from the didactic and moralistic in favor of the ambiguous and unstable, the hopeless and sorrowful. The first story, "Still," is the piece that inspired me to write about the intersections of loss, memory, and God in the rest of the collection. Following a young couple’s heartbreak after a miscarriage, the story is done in a set of vignettes from both the wife’s and husband’s perspectives, the broken sections mirroring the fragmented emotional intensity of the couple’s unexpected moments of grief. In "Wilderness," Robert struggles with the death of his wife when he realizes that there were aspects of her life about which she never told him, leading him to fear that she never really loved him. "Nena" is the story of a young woman who loses her mother, causing her doubt in God and the Church to deepen and her questions of identity and purpose to resurface. Dissimilar from the other stories, "Americana" is written almost entirely in dialogue, and shows the final dissolution and deterioration of a family. Finally, "Laugh" is a story about a bitter woman named Leah struggling with her father’s impending death, but more so with her family history. I chose to title the collection after the story "Wilderness: because in each story, the characters are unable to see the purposes in their sufferings, feel abandoned or alone, and are frustrated by the wildernesses of questions, doubts, and loss in their lives.