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Wilder’s Working Women: An Exploration of Existential Questions

Miriam White
Miriam White
Faculty Adviser(s)

Thornton Wilder was a great American novelist and playwright. One theme he returned to frequently in his work was how or why we live. In my research project I examine this theme in his novels The Bridge of San Luis Rey and The Eighth Day; specifically, how the professional women in each novel address and possibly answer the existential questions of how and why we live. Through critical analysis of the novels and other scholarly texts on them, I will discuss the different professional women characters and how they think about life. Even though the rise of professional women has plateaued, there is a new facet to this topic in modern day as more women choose not to have children. While some of the characters I will be examining have children, this will be a piece of scholarship that could resonate across generations. Furthermore, my study will show that women who have lives outside of the home have deeper and more nuanced answers to how and why we live. 

Project Media

Miriam White is a Louisville, Kentucky native but has come to call Winston-Salem home over the last four years. She has focused her education on reading and writing as widely as possible to further enrich her studies and herself as a person. Her ultimate professional dream is to be a full-time author writing novels that focus on fantasy with diverse casts of characters. Until she can take this on full time, she is focused on editing novels and using her power to make the publishing world more diverse. She also hopes to advocate for novels that center on college-age and post-grad protagonists, a sector she sees a huge gap in. Miriam looks forward to venturing into the publishing world after graduation, but is happy knowing Salem will always welcome her home.


This is a fascinating take on the female characters in Wilder. I look forward to hearing/watching your presentation, Miriam!

Submitted by Paula_Young on Tue, 04/13/2021 - 19:47 Permalink