Date Available


Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Greg Stump


Deictic shift theory (DST) was developed as a model of the construction and comprehension of all types of fictional narrative. With respect to the participant structures of texts, however, DST researchers have focused their attention on deictic shifts in third-person narratives, leaving first-person narratives unanalyzed from this theoretical perspective. As a result, DST in its present form does not adequately account for the variety of manipulations of a range of perspectives that may be achieved in first-person narratives. Nor has DST been systematically applied to texts whose participant structures undergo extensive reorganization as the result of a surprise ending or other narrative twist. By analyzing the deictic and referring expressions that create the participant structure of Chuck Palahniuks novel Fight Club, this thesis tests DSTs potential to account for authors and readers cognitive experiences of first-person narratives with plot twists. The analysis establishes a wider range of linguistic cues that may affect readers mental representations of characters. It identifies interactions between elements in the participant structure, including those that permit the representation of non-narrating characters subjective perspectives, as well as the linguistic features that enable these interactions. The thesis examines the effects of an authors violations of traditional narrative perspective constraints, and it underscores the importance, especially in DST-motivated analyses, of recognizing the potential for interplay between general narrative constraints and the narrative structure of a specific text. The thesis revises DSTs account of the nature and extent of deictic shifts in first-person narratives and describes the role deictic shifts play in fictional narratives that contain plot twists.