Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Susan N. Maher


“If, somewhere beneath the blood, the past must beat in me to make a rhythm of survival for itself—to go on as this half-life which echoes as a second pulse inside the ticking moments of my existence—if this is what must be, why is the pattern of remembered instant so uneven, so gapped and rugged and plunging and soaring? I can only believe it is because memory takes its pattern from the earliest moments in the mind, from childhood. In childhood is a most queer flame-lit and shadow-chilled time” (Sky 10). In his memoirs, Heart Earth and This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind, Ivan Doig remembers with respect and fondness the lives of his mother, father, and Grandfather and the role in his coming of age. Doig’s recollections show that he owes his maturation—from a boy bent on dream to a man sure of reality, yet still fond of dreaming—to his mother, his grandmother, and his father. Maternal grace, or “heart,” is the foundation for Ivan's sensibility of the values of pity and endurance—values associated with myth in western literature—and the paternal extension of these values, namely Charlie's hard work and persistence, are the chief reasons why Ivan is able to cope with loss in a world rough to the touch of youth. With concern for how the past and its people shaped us in the present, Doig makes revelations about his family that are simultaneously revelations about himself. The beauty of these memoirs is that Doig can synthesize with retrospective maturity the events in words of his parents that impressed him most.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of English and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2000 Ellen M. Fangman.

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