Date of Award

Summer 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Monika Gehlawat

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Maureen Ryan

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Charles Sumner

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Alexandra Valint

Committee Member 4 School



This dissertation argues that the multi-perspectival structure of several contemporary American war novels demonstrates the ways in which American narratives marginalize indigenous civilians. Specifically, by restricting their role in the narrative compared to American narrators, these novels represent the limited agency of the Other. This project analyzes the use of multiple narrators, American and indigenous, in the following contemporary American war novels: The Watch (2011) by Joydeep-Roy-Bhattacharya, Fives and Twenty-Fives (2014) by Michael Pitre, Sand Queen (2011) by Helen Benedict, and Spoils (2017) by Brian Van Reet. The analysis will explore how narration by indigenous characters is restricted while American narrators face no such restrictions. The depictions of indigenous narrators in these novels exposes the bias in American war literature toward the perspectives of American combatants. Though indigenous characters narrate their own experiences, other aspects of the narrative serve to undermine their narration. This dissertation uses relevant concepts of narrative theory to demonstrate how the different components of a narrative can undermine the voice of an indigenous character. These narratives suggest that American writers should recognize the bias inherent in works of American war literature if they intend to depict the experiences of non-American civilians in the wars of the twenty-first century.

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