Abstract

In the latter stages of dementia, Sam Laws, a principle character of Charles Dodd White’s A Shelter of Others (2014b), attempts to reorient himself in his bonds with estranged son Mason, daughter-in-law Lavada, and the natural world around him. Set primarily on the border of a national park, the novel explores the experience of being lost within close-knit relationships. With his recent release from prison on drug charges, Mason feels reluctant to return home, concerned about his failure as a husband and a son, despite his affection for his family. In her capacity as caregiver, Lavada suffers with the burden of preserving a home for these men. In his illness, Sam attempts to re-integrate himself with the forest, engaging in a conscious challenge to restore an order he believes confirmed by voices in the natural world. Sam’s internal monologue, at times illuminating his actions while at other times offering scant explanation for his disorientation, illustrates his sense of being lost while detailing missed opportunities to find his way home. In this conflict between Sam’s dementia and the layers of community regulation, White invites readers to weigh which voices provide the most nurturing shelter.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.