Date of Award

Spring 1989

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Schwartz, Joseph

Second Advisor

Bates, Milton

Third Advisor

Reising, Russell


Williston Barrett experiences a sense that something is amiss in the world and in his life in particular. There is imbalance, indirection, fear and bewilderment at every turn. The evidence in The Last Gentleman and The Second Coming, points to the presence of the Myth of the Fall. Is Will Barrett a fallen man in a fallen world? There is the possibility that the problem of the Fall is embodied in two complete cycles of falling/rising in which the individual struggles toward salvation. In the first cycle the protagonist journeys with the dying young Jamie Vaught to a place of death which also resonates with a place of rising through Father Boomer's words, "This day you shall see God." In the second cycle, Will's "falling sickness" embodies his search for equilibrium. My problem of investigation is centered in coming to terms with the presence of the Myth of the Fall in the experience of a fallen man in a fallen world who encounters death and is consoled by resurrection. As post-lapsarian Adam, Will Barrett is a wayfarer on a spiritual quest for a secret which will give meaning to his experience of life. In my examination I discover Will carrying the wound of original sin. He is a new Adam in search of a family and a home. Interpreting evidence of the Fall as it is recounted in the Book of Genesis is central to procedure. Will Barrett is introduced to the reader as a person who had lived in a state of pure possibility, not knowing what sort of a man he was or what he must do, and supposing therefore that he must be all men and do everything" (LG 4). As companion to a dying young man, Will is given the task to tell Jamie about the "economy of salvation" (LG 210). While providing for Jamie's baptism and witnessing his death, Will experiences the meaning of the Fall including its essential hope of glorious resurrection...



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