Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jaimy Gordon

Second Advisor

Dr. Jon Adams

Third Advisor

Robert Eversz

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Lisa Minnick


Steeped in the bedlam of Guatemala' s civil war, this novel is a story about Henry Foster, a seventeen-year-old boy from the United States who tries to hold his family together during a crisis in his father' s sabbatical year. Astronomy professor at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Milton Foster takes Henry and his family to Lake Atitlan, where he can research the celestial maps of the ancient Maya. The family arrives in 1978, before the presidential inauguration of General Lucas Garcia, whose administration would soon become a marker for the onset of widespread violence and repression. After Henry is accosted by a roadside soldier while defending bis nine-year- old brother Jason, their mother insists upon leaving the country. But their father refuses to go before his research is complete. Caught in the crossfire, the brothers must choose between their parents.

When Henry sees a military assistant harassing Maria, a twenty-two-year-old Mayan, he unleashes his frustrations on the young man and kills him. Afterward he is terrified that he has put his family into grave danger. Now his father insists that they leave the country, saying he will follow as soon as he can wrap up his research. Jason and bis mother fly back to Maryland. Henry and Maria travel to the ruins in Palenque, Mexico. But when they hear that an American professor has been arrested at Lake Atitlan, they feel they must return despite the danger.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access