Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English



First Advisor

Wilfred Dvorak


Lilacs in November is an original novel in the female bildungsroman tradition. Four year old Faith is struggling to understand her life; she tries to believe that lilacs can sustain her, even in November.

Faith, like Jane in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, emotionally feels like an orphan. Faith is an outsider trying to fit into her family and her neighborhood, but she remains unconnected until she invents Jamie, her imaginary playmate. Jamie and Faith share the same kind of relationship that young Catherine and Heathcliff shared in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Despite its imaginary basis, the relationship is no less intense.

Faith, like Maggie in George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss, is a master at pretending. Without Jamie and her in them that keeps her alive. She is as attached to her lilac trees as Mary, in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is to her secret garden. But when Faith is forced to move, her ability to pretend erodes.

Faith tries to talk to God, as does Celie in Alice Walker's The Color Purple and, like Celie, she gets no response. Faith even thinks that if she makes peace with Cathy Elliot, as Elaine tries to do with Cordelia in Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye, she won't have to move. Ultimately Faith, like Antonia in Willa Cather's My Antonia, resigns herself to moving. But Faith finds no happy ending, there is only a hope that in Mrs. O'Brien's classroom she will find a real best friend to replace the imaginary one whom she buried under the lilac trees.



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