Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English



First Advisor

Carn, Rachel

Subject Headings



According to modernist Friedrich Nietzsche in On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense, language is a constructed system which fails to represent reality because of its inherent metaphorical nature. Modernist writer Virginia Woolf and postmodernist writer Tim O’Brien implicitly address Nietzsche’s belief as they warn against and represent the horrors of war in the novels Jacob’s Room and The Things They Carried. Nietzsche and Woolf develop new modernist styles, forsaking the conventions of nineteenth-century realism. O’Brien pays homage to high modernism and to Woolf in his novel through direct reference and through the modernist strategies utilized to present the unpresentable. The strongest bond between these two novels is each text’s metafictional acknowledgement that it has failed even before it has begun, echoing Nietzsche. The novels Jacob’s Room and The Things They Carried circumvent language’s limitations and make the reader feel that s/he understands war and will therefore seek peace.