Date of Award
Union College Only
Bachelor of Arts
Creative Writing, Fiction, Novella, Short Story, New Jersey, Religion, Missionary Work, Responsibility
Strangers on Earth is a creative fiction project structured as a collection of short stories, accompanied by several illustrations. These stories follow several principal characters, all of whom are serving as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the transitional period of their lives between high school and college. The setting is rural New Jersey in the spring of 2018. The two main characters, Alden Maxwell and Damien Silva, are assigned to work with one another, but their differences coupled with the responsibilities, stresses and frustrations of their everyday life complicate their relationship.
The collection is arranged so that each story stands on its own as a self-contained piece, focusing on one principal character at a time. However, taken together, they form an overarching story, over which the journey and development of the characters can be seen. In this sense, the text blurs the lines between short story and chapter, collection and novel. This format was inspired by other short fiction collections that are similarly connected by either theme or narrative. There are seven stories in total.
The collection is thematically consistent, exploring ideas of responsibility, the weight of expectations, anxiety for the future, and the process of forming and better understanding one’s own identity. Due to the premise and setting of the story, religious themes are present as well and intersect with each of the other themes in turn. Although many of the stories are open ended in nature, each one is narrowly focused on a specific critical moment of change for one or more of the principal characters. These small moments of interaction between different characters who are often strangers to one another are what give the project its title.
Caccioppoli, Frank, "Strangers on Earth" (2022). Honors Theses. 2554.
Available for download on Wednesday, March 12, 2025