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A Death in the Family

James Agee

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title · A Death in the Family

author · James Agee

type of work · Novel

genre · Fiction

language · English

time and place written · 1955; New York City

date of first publication · 1957

publisher · Grosset and Dunlap

narrator · Unnamed third person narrator

point of view · Third person omniscient

tone · The tone changes throughout the story. Often when there is no dialogue, Agee's writing style is poetic and abstract; during the dialogue, the language is realistic and down-to earth

tense · Immediate past

setting (time) · 1915

setting (place) · Knoxville, Tennessee

protagonist · Rufus

antagonist · There is not a specific antagonist per se—the death of Rufus's father serves as a general antagonist to every character

climax · Jay's death

themes · The role of religion; childhood perception

motifs · Memory

symbols · The butterfly

foreshadowing · Description of the automobile starting up at the end of Chapter 2; the title of the novel