Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Kathryn McKee

Relational Format



Through an exploration of the causes of the characters' suffering and their mechanisms for coping, this thesis shows that by developing the perseverance necessary to navigate ordinary, everyday obstacles, Tyler's characters cope with extraordinary circumstances causing them pain. They also realize that victories in the little things lead to discoveries about themselves and the sources of their distress. The six novels discussed here include The Accidental Tourist, Saint Maybe, The Beginner's Goodbye, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Ladder of Years, and Breathing Lessons. Nine major characters from these six novels are explored and, while various causes lead to their individual suffering, these origins can be divided into three main categories: grief as the result of freak accidents, motherhood, and insecurities arising from unusual circumstances. Though their coping mechanisms take a variety of forms, this thesis explores the validity of several different responses and also emphasizes everyday endurance as the ultimate victory in these characters' lives.

Accessibility Status

Searchable text



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.