Dissertation Title:

Pulling at Threads: Re-framing the Archetypal Family Relationship through the Castor and Pollux Myth for the Young Adult Audience


Deborah Maroulis

Date, Time & Place:

April 22, 2022 at 10:00 am


This dissertation explores how the sibling archetype and, more specifically, the twin archetype plays a symbolic role in the process of individuation, especially by expanding the Self/Other relationship to include a horizontal dimension. It includes a depth psychological exploration of the stories associated with Castor and Pollux, twins who play a central role in classical mythology. The theoretical portion of this dissertation examines the importance of retelling myths—stories that illumine the timeless experience of being human—as YA novels that speak to contemporary adolescents. It explores the positive and negative aspects of what Jungians call the puer, the perpetual adolescent, and the inescapability of grief even for young people. Finally, this portion of the dissertation argues that stories exploring horizontal relationships, particularly those geared toward teenaged readers, may help them negotiate the progression away from the period in their lives dominated by familial bonds and promote a deeper connection to a wider world.

The production portion of the dissertation is a retelling of the Castor and Pollux myth as a contemporary Young Adult novel where the two main characters explore familial and sibling archetypes, the latter serving as the model of all horizontal relationships. Both are teens searching for friendship and companionship while navigating their own journey toward individuation. Pax is a seventeen-year-old foster child who faces the decision of accepting his foster family’s adoption offer or fulfilling the promise he made to his older foster brother that he would live with him once the foster brother is released from jail. Sixteen-year-old Cassie is an only child who discovers her parents almost gave her up for adoption when she was born. Pax and Cassie are connected through Emily, Cassie’s best friend and Pax’s foster sister. Through their relationships with each other, as well as other teens, Pax and Cassie find a path that leads them toward individuation as well as each other.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, I, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Christine Downing
  • Reader: Dr. Maureen Murdock
  • External Reader: Dr. Katherine Rothschild
  • Keywords: Sibling Archetype, Twin Archetype, Dioscuri, Horizontal Relationships, YA Novels