The Vagaries of E Pluribus Unum: First-Person Plural Narration in Joshua Ferris's Then We Came to the End and TaraShea Nesbit's The Wives of Los Alamos

Michaela Beck


The ‘we’ narrator has been witnessing an apparent upswing in 21st-century U.S. fiction. Yet, still only a comparably small number of context-focused analyses have discussed this narrative voice so far. Further, inquiries into analyses of the ‘we’ narrator’s cultural and political implications have been repeatedly limited by an underlying association of narratives in the first-person plural with discursive acts of protest and resistance. Integrating text-centered and contextual approaches to the ‘we’ narrative voice, I draw on two examples, Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End and TaraShea Nesbit’s The Wives of Los Alamos, to propose that, in a contemporary U.S. context, this narrative voice is intertwined with both, the representation of counter-voices to dominant discourses and the allegorical reaffirmation of fundamental American myths pertinent to U.S. society and culture.


‘we’ narrator; narratology; 21st-century novel; Joshua Ferris; TaraShea Nesbit; counter-voice; national allegory

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