The bastard out of St. Louis

Thumbnail Image
Muller, Jonathon
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
'The Bastard Out of St. Louis' is a creative writing M.A. thesis. The text is a prose piece written in the form of a novella, consisting of the first two sections of a proposed longer work. The text is narrated in the first person by the main protagonist, Thomas Bullfinch; an ex-Jesuit priest who has left the Order to seek his fortune and other various misadventures on the plains of Kansas, eventually ending up in the cattle town of Abilene. Through the use of this often myopic and self-obsessed narrative voice, the text addresses the diverse and problematic issues of narrative construction and storytelling. Some of the narrative structures explored by the text include biographical/autobiographical writing, traditional Christian narratives, as well as the genre of the pulp Western novel itself. As the narrative progresses, the integrity and reliability of the narrative voice becomes increasingly questionable, as the narrator is consistently haunted by the need to place his own story and the story of those he meets into a narrative construction that allows events to seem purposeful and comprehensible to him. As a result, the portrayal of events and characters in the text seems to display more of an allegiance to the narrative construction of popular nineteenth century novels than to any notions of objective reality. Fantasy dissolves indistinguishably into reality, and narrative digresses further and further into seemingly irrelevant minutiae, while apparently leaving out entire plot elements pertinent to the 'action' of the story. Eventually, the narrative begins to implode upon itself, fragmenting into multiple points of view, all originating from a single mediating source.