Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing


Autobiographical Fiction, Creative Writing, Immigrant Culture, Northern Ontario Literature, Sault Ste. Marie, Strong Female Characters


Jirgens, Karl




Set in the Northern Ontario city of Sault Ste. Marie, the novella Rule of Seconds is a semi-autobiographical fiction that interlaces a city’s and a family’s history through storytelling, family lore, hearsay, medical accounts, newspaper clippings, and other archival materials. The disjunctive narrative weaves together stories about the troubled relationships of four generations of women with Ukrainian backgrounds. Rule of Seconds spans from the early 1920s, through Prohibition, to the present. The narrator-protagonist, a member of the fourth generation, pieces together surprising facts about her family history. The novella is a story of self-discovery, acceptance, and remembrance. It depicts the socio-economic struggles of the working-class men and women who populate the small Northern Ontario city. Rule of Seconds raises questions about why we do not have a consensus over what has happened in the past, as suggested by the subtitle of the novella, “The way the past unfolded depended upon who told it.” The novella is open-ended, raising epistemological questions about what we choose to believe, and why we make such choices.