“The Nuclear Family” is a short story, numbering 21 pages. Taking place in an alternate Cold War-era United States, “The Nuclear Family” follows the events leading up to a nuclear exchange between the United States and the USSR, and the events that follow it, from the perspective of the patriarch of a family of four: the eponymous “nuclear family”; a pun on both the subject matter and the quintessential “American” family structure. Over the course of this short story, I have attempted to address themes such as familial loyalty, the cost of security in an inherently unsafe world, and what it means to be a “good” person when mere survival means compromising yourself morally. I address the questions of what is and is not permissible when the survival and safety of not only oneself but also one’s family is on the line. Is the road to Hell, in fact, paved with good intentions? I also focus on the juxtaposition of 50s Americana with the harsh realities of a nuclear wasteland. As a creative piece, “The Nuclear Family” obviously cannot answer such questions in a quantifiable manner. Like all works of fiction, however, the conclusions reached by the audience will provide an introspective look at their own beliefs, and some small measure of insight into the human condition.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 12-4-2015


R. Dean Johnson

Mentor Professional Affiliation

English and Theatre

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level




Department Name when Degree Awarded

English and Theatre