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Publication Date

Spring 2014

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Nick Taylor


creative writing, fiction, novel

Subject Areas



The formation of identity, knowledge of the self, and the impossibility of human connection have long been thematic staples of literary fiction. In The Uncanny Valley, these themes are examined through use of an unconventional premise involving identical twins who are not, through an accident of in-vitro fertilization, the same age. When the

narrator Charlotte's parents conceived her through IVF, they froze an unused embryo, not knowing that before Charlotte's embryo was implanted, it had split in two. Twelve years later, the parents decide to implant this second embryo, resulting in the birth of Carolina, Charlotte's younger sister. As the novel progresses, the family learns through DNA

testing that the two girls share the same genetic material. However, because Charlotte was raised as an only child, and Carolina was not, they relate to the world in very different ways. Charlotte is isolated, lonely, and incapable of connecting with others. Carolina, in turn, is boisterous, confident, and able to easily interact with the people in her life. Charlotte, who resents these qualities in her sister, discovers an unusual gift: the

ability to hurt Carolina by physically harming herself. As the novel plays out, the reader begins to realize that the damage Charlotte causes to her sister is a metaphor for the damage we cause ourselves by refusing to accept (or being unable to interrogate) our own core identities. As humans can never truly understand who we are or what made us that way, Charlotte desperately tries but fails to discover herself by using her sister as a mirror. The self, for Charlotte and for all of us, is ultimately unknowable.