Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Advisor

Doane, Margaret

Second Advisor

Newlin, Maureen

Third Advisor

Pigeon, Renée


This thesis examines three male characters from Willa Cather's writing that epitomize the American Dream of professional and material success but they find no contentment once they achieve it. This disillusionment is particularly so with Cather's driven male professionals, Bartley Alexander (an architectural scholar), and Clement Sebastian (a critically acclaimed, international opera singer). Cather situates these characters at middle age and at the peak of their professional careers, which makes the examination of them an interesting study as to the effects of the encroaching modern age on successful men. This thesis begins with a brief overview of Cather's work, including scholarly criticism of each novel, progresses to the examination of her successful male characters, and concludes with the investigation of Cather as a Modernist writer.