Date of Award
Honors College Thesis
Adam Clay, Ph.D.
A staple of the bildungsroman, or coming-of-age, genre is a loss of innocence, often through trauma, so it is only natural for our protagonist to grasp at whatever coping mechanism may offer them comfort. As a coming-of-age novel, The Beast Lives Here asks: How does folklore and the supernatural interact with young, impressionable protagonists who are desperate to find explanations for their pain? The Beast Lives Here follows teenage narrator August (Aggie) Cain as she and her best friend move from junior to senior year of high school. Her excitement, however, is cut short by her best friend's lengthy trip to Italy and her odd attitude once she returns. Because she is constantly surrounded by her father's artwork of local legend, The Rougarou, Aggie begins to convince herself that her best friend's new, aloof demeanor is proof that she has been taken over by the beastly creature who punishes sinners. The Rougarou serves many purposes throughout the novel, such as villain, manifestation of emotional deflection and immaturity, lesson, and (to some) muse. The meaning of the Rougarou is subjective and, appropriately, reflective of the Rougarou's actual place in New Orleans culture. As a local legend which was previously used to frighten misbehaving youth, it modernly serves as an aestheticized representation of Catholic Louisianian/Cajun culture, particularly around Mardi Gras season. The Beast Lives Here aims to show the multi-faceted purpose of the Rougarou as a concept, as well as portray a way in which a young adult might make sense of the world.
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Kirkland, Kelli, "The Beast Lives Here" (2023). Honors Theses. 901.