Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Karem, Frederick

Subject Headings

Apocalyptic literature, Apocalypse in literature, Said, Edward W. -- Criticism and interpretation, Brin, David -- Criticism and interpretation, Emshwiller, Carol -- Criticism and interpretation, Said, Edward Other American Tribal Post-Apocalyptic Apocalyptic Apocalypse


Most post-apocalyptic novels feature situations in which protagonists and antagonists are extremely polarized. In this relationship, many antagonists are treated as the "other," this practice, according to Edward Said, is used by one group to establish dominance over another. This thesis strives to examine the relationship between the protagonist and its tribal "other" in two works of American post-apocalyptic fiction, and suggests that this dichotomous relationship corresponds to key concerns in American political culture at the time of each work's publication. David Brin's 1985 novel The Postman uses the "other" as a way to reinforce core American values, such as integrity and hard work the protagonist, who takes on the role of a mail carrier and becomes a symbol for hope, helps to defeat the "other" and resurrects the post-apocalyptic United States. The "other" in The Postman is a group of barbaric anarchists who perpetuate anti-American sentiments. These sentiments, as it will be argued, were a major political concern in the United States during the late 1970s and early 1980s. By defeating this group of "others," the American ideals that were valued (at the time of the novel's publication) are reinforced and are perpetuated as necessary ideals that can save the United States from any danger that it may face. Carol Emshwiller's 2006 short story "Killers" uses the "other" as well, although to a different effect. Instead of promoting beliefs of the time period, the treatment of the "other" undermines this practice, as the protagonist, rather than the antagonist, is the tribal "other." Because of this inversion, this text seems to undermine the culture that promotes the ideals the protagonist perpetuates the dichotomy through culturally ignorant slurs against the character that she believes to be the "other," and when she is revealed as the other, her beliefs are challenged and undermined. This practice of creating and perpetuating an "other" seems to be challenged in "Killers" through the inversion