Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Detailing the Mormon Script: Thayer's Fictional Take on Our Reality

Thayer's fictional depiction of the mormon experience allows the reader to more objectively reevaluate mormon culture from a different viewpoint.  As we see the effect of mormonism on adolescent Kyle, through his thought process, speech and general outlook on his life it causes that some of the dilemas and particular difficulties of growing up in a mormon community become more easy to examine and deliberate.  In my reading of Thayer's novel, I certainly found myself reconsidering several of the trends and sometimes subtle messages commonly promoted and communicated in a mormon upbringing and environment.

By addressing these themes through a fictional narrative as opposed to a personal essay or non-fiction account of a specific person, Thayer is able to work with very real characters who at the same time act as subsets of stereotypical mormons that are influenced by our unique religious culture in a similar way.  Likewise, by taking the viewpoint of a Kyle narrated in the first person the reader is able to fluidly immerse his or herself in the actual thinking of the young man, thus experiencing more genuinely what it is like to be him as he experiences social pressures and goes through honest self reflection firsthand.

For me the most resonant moments in "Will Wonders Never Cease" are when Kyle candidly comments on his gut emotional reaction to the pressures and expectations placed upon him.  When he warns his friend, Mark, of the whole new world of responsibilities he'll be taking on upon joining the church many of the perceived expectations he voices, though exaggerated, ring true.  Although no one in the church likely tries to broadcast these messages as a script all mormon youth must measure up to, the fact nevertheless remains that mormon youth are expected to do and be more than nearly any other group, sometimes unattainably so.  It may not be commonly voiced with such honesty in most mormon settings (even Kyle keeps most of his feelings and observations to himself), but Thayer's decision to lay these issues out on the table with such candor makes for a compelling commentary on who we are and how we live in Mormon society.


  1. I love that you connect the genre (fiction or non-fiction) with viewpoint. It would be interesting to read a non-fictional version of this story and how it would change. Would the characters be different? Would the setting be different? Would the hints of Mormon doctrine not be as obvious?

    You did a very thorough analysis with some great references, good job!

  2. Getting into the mind of another individual who is different from yourself is a worthwhile exercise in trying to gain empathy. By describing Mormon adolescence in a fictional world, Thayer can move the pieces around Kyle (other characters, situations) to bring out different emotions and thoughts out of him. We can't do this (honestly) with non-fiction. Your post explains this perfectly.