Avenging Angels : The Nephi Archetype and Blood Atonement in Neil LaBute, Brian Evenson, and Levi Peterson, and the Making of the Mormon American Writer
Austin, Michael,Decker, Mark T.
Peculiar Portrayals : Mormons on the Page, Stage, and Screen
Utah State University Press
"The story of Nephi killing Laban contributed three key elements to the Mormon mythos: (1) Nephi as archetypal Mormon hero; (2) righteous murder committed by that hero, or blood atonement; and (3) the rhetorical justification for blood atonement. More than 150 years later, we see the Nephi archetype appear not only in the horrific Lafferty murders but in Mormon literature as well--specifically in three contemporary works by Neil LaBute, Brian Evenson, and Levi Peterson....This essay discusses how these three contemporary representations of blood atonement are rooted in the real nineteenth-century expectation that Mormons perform ritualized murder on sinners, apostates, or gentiles. These literary portraits suggest that the Mormon Church's attempt to bury its own history has failed--its past is always present, whether the church acknowledges it or not, and has found its way into these three writers' work." [From author's introduction]