Joan Hilmoe

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




The initial appeal of the novelist Frederick Manfred for this student of American literature grew from the fact that he is a contemporary writer and that he lives in the Midwest, more precisely, in Siouxland. At first his novels seemed primarily entertaining, but interest in his work developed with an awareness of a parallel between Manfred's concepts of the isolation of man and relationship to his fellow man and modern psychological ideas. Throughout the research and study of several novels, insights have crystallized to form a clearer idea of man's search for identity and the results of that search in his life. Most of Manfred's novels portray life in the early settlements on the plains of Siouxland. This is his home and the region he knows best. Many critics believe that he is one of the best novelists to write of-this period and setting. He has the ability to present realistically the thoughts of his characters and to give a feeling of the times he portrayed. Manfred has also expressed universality in the characters and their struggles. For example, the search of No Name, the young Indian lad in Conquering Horse, for his identity and purpose in life is a search every young man experiences. Two themes have emerged from a continued study of the novels and have become the focus for the research in this paper. Manfred shows in the lives of his characters two realities of human experience, an understanding of which seems essential to the healthy development of personality. These are the themes of isolation and relationship. Such a study in five selected novels of Manfred yields insight not only into Manfred's characters but also into the struggle of every man to find himself. Furthermore, as the study has grown, it seems to explain the nature of Manfred as a person, as well as a writer. When the study was completed, the heroes in the novels were familiar but it was the character and thought of Frederick Manfred that had been revealed to this· writer. Particularly meaningful were his beliefs in individualism and relationship with others. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the themes of isolation and relationships in five novels of Frederick Manfred. This provides a clearer understanding of the modern concept of the individual's search for identity and an insight into the character of the author. The five novels chosen for this paper were selected on the basis of the insight they give into Frederic Manfred's beliefs about man and how he discovers his own identity. Certain aspects of his writing led to the choice of these specific novels.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Manfred, Frederick Feikema, 1912-1994



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University