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A Death in the Family

Main Ideas

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