Carole Krysan

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School



There are many possible influences which shape the culture or the way of life of a society. One of the strongest of these influences has been the movies. Movies and moviegoing have been a part of American culture for more than eighty-five years, but the movies as a way of life in America perhaps reached its peak in the period from 1945-1955. This was the post World War II era when there were as many as 90,000,000 paid admissions per week from a population of 150,000,000. By the end of this decade, attendance had dropped to 42,000,000 due mainly to the increasing availability and popularity of television. Over the year’s sociologists, psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists, moral theologians, historians and people from a variety of other disciplines have researched different aspects of the movies. Popular literature also reflects the influence of movies and moviegoing on society. This thesis will discuss four novels written about the period from 1945-1955 in which the main character is a moviegoer: Bijou by David Madden, The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, and The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. Fictional characters are obviously not real people; they are usually types or composite personalities which the author fabricates from his/her observations of real people. As Annie Dillard says in her book, Living by Fiction, literature "presents a model interpreted out of the real world." The author selects what he/she needs from reality to fabricate his/her models. The fact that the novel is a fabrication makes the result different from a scientific study but does not necessarily lessen the value of the literary approach. The novelist observes the same world as the researcher. The difference in the result of these observations is similar to learning about the Civil War from Gone With the Wind instead of a history book. The characters in the four novels to be discussed in this thesis provide the reader with models from which he/she can learn something about the function of movies and moviegoing in the decade 1945 to 1955.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Toole, John Kennedy, 1937-1969. Confederacy of dunces
Percy, Walker, 1916-1990. Moviegoer
Madden, David, 1933- Bijou
McMurtry, Larry. Last picture show
American fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism
South Dakota State University Theses



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University