Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The scientific study of divorce is still in its initial stages. Sociologists have studied the problem and have made great progress in understanding it. Fiction writers, in presenting the problem through the more easily accessible method of the novel have reached and have influenced a greater number of people than have the long and difficult treatises of the scientists. As a wife and mother I became interested in this most vital problem which has tragically broken so many homes. My purpose in making this study has been to ascertain the degree to which the authors are reflecting in the novels written during the years 1920-1945 the current social problem of divorce. I have evaluated the material in relation to first, the underlying causes of the divorce, second, the effect of the divorce upon the members of the family, and, third, the attitude of the authors toward divorce. Here we must differentiate between the real and legal reasons for divorce. Many sociologists have discussed this at some length and have found in their research that the real reasons for divorce are those tensions and irritations which make it impossible for a man and woman to "get along” within the bonds of matrimony. When a couple attempts to get a divorce, however, their pleas frequently bear little relation to the marital problems involved. If the only legal ground for absolute divorce is adultery, that charge will be made whether or not the defendant has in reality been guilty of adultery. Because of the impossibility of reading all the fiction written in these years the total period was divided into five parts and representative novels were picked from each part. Those in which the divorce theme was discussed were kept for further study.


Dr. Ralph V. Coder

Date of Award

Spring 1947

Document Type



© 1947 Ethel Liss Simpson


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