Date of Award

Summer 8-2013

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Katherine Cochran

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Martina Sciolino

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Charles Sumner

Committee Member 3 Department



This thesis examines Walker Percy's manipulation of time in Love in the Ruins as a component of indirectly communicating his solution to problems in twentieth-century Western society: existential authenticity. By examining this often overlooked novel, I clarify the process by which Percy conveys his solution and the difficulties inherent in his attempts to do so. Research shows how Percy perceived such problems stemmed from the tendency of postmodern thought to place human subjective experience within an overarching, objective framework. These problems that Percy exaggerates in the novel are essentially distractions of immediacy that lead the characters away from choosing authentic existence. He juxtaposes his critique of culture with time devices, such as his selection of genre, his use of flashback, and his persistent present tense narration, so that the reader can reflectively contemplate the concept of eternity, a major component of the existential authenticity he prescribes. The reader's recognition of the tension between the two modes of time, immediacy and eternity, is crucial to identifying the solution Percy indirectly communicates.