Date of Award
Master of Arts
This novella is the story of Aino Saarinen and her husband Len, two talented people living in a Finnish-American community that values humility and self-deprecation. While Aino struggles to hide her artistic talent, her husband, who rejects the community's standard, devotes all his energy to winning cross country ski races. When Len's obsession with competition leads to an accident that robs him of his ability to ski, both Aino and Len are forced to change their relationship with themselves, with each other, and with the community in which they live. The style and content of this novella draw from a broad range of influences, from South American magical realists to the traditional mythology of the Finns, as collected in Elias Lonrott's Kalevala. From the Kalevala, two stories serve as the main metaphorical underpinnings of Unraveling. Aino's story grows out of the tale of her namesake, a girl who chooses suicide over marriage and who transforms into a salmon, swimming free. Len is developed from the Kalevala character Lemminkainen, a boastful youth whose death and resurrection cause him to become a better man. Though the characters and setting are fictional, this novella is grounded with rich detail, collected from extensive research into a variety of subjects, including: Finnish history and culture, the geography of Lake Superior, cross-country skiing, and the art and craft of weaving.
Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/
Anna Elaine Ossanna
Ossanna, Anna Elaine, "Unraveling" (2002). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 16157.