An Abundance of Katherines Literary Elements

An Abundance of Katherines Literary Elements


Young Adult Fiction, Coming of Age, Adventure

Setting and Context

Gutshot, Tennessee

Narrator and Point of View

Third person narrative, following the life - and thoughts - of Colin.

Tone and Mood

Adventurous; philosophical; humorous; endearing.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Colin as a protagonist, possible antagonist Hollis.

Major Conflict

Colin, Lindsey and Hassan decide to spy on Hollis to see what she is hiding. As a result, they find out that Hollis is dumping tampon strings into the ground, because no one buys them from the factory anymore and she doesn't want anyone to be left without a job. The news take a big toll on Lindsey so Colin tries to comfort her, with him figuring out that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand is an anagram of Lindsey's great-grandfather's name, who is in the grave. Although at first these are saddening news, it eventually leads to their relationship.


Colin figures out the theory to relationships, love and math, but as a result calculates that Lindsey will break up with him in four days, but Lindsey's not leaving him, which makes Colin realise that not everything in life can be calculated, it's better to experience life for what it is. Lindsey, Colin, and Hassan decide to go on a journey and see what happens.


Through the use of non-linear chronological order of the story, the reader finds out about each of the Katherines, which could be interpreted as a foreshadowing for future events. Although no specific example of foreshadowing is present, this is an important aspect to understanding the style of the novel.


At the end of the book, Colin finally experiences pure happiness, as well as representation of realism, compared to the beginning. He starts understanding that he doesn't have to be social or be forced into doing anything, which was understated for most of the book, as he always saw himself with low self-esteem. Now, he seems the endless possibilities that life can offer him.


Literary References: The Catcher in the Rye, Don Juan, The Missing Piece, Shakespeare, Naked and the Dead.
Culture references: Star Trek, Saturday Night Live.
Historic References: Thomas Edison, Archduke Franz Ferdinand (an anagram of Lindsey's great-grandfather's name).


The invention of the word 'dingleberries' clearly conveys what can make the character's upset or pushed over the edge in terms of friendships in the book.
Colin's theorem shows his obsession with solving that which cannot be solved, and his continuous need to learn and resolve life issues represents his philosophy towards making an impact on the world. In the end, he realises that you can't use mathematics to solve life/love.
The Katherines themselves are symbols for each situation that Colin encounters.


No specific examples.


Each story of the Katherines drives a parallel to Colin's ideology and situation. Other than that, there are limited examples of parallelism.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

An example of metonymy would be the imagery of dingleberries throughout the novel, which repeatedly surface in order to convey when a character is feeling overwhelmed. Other than that, there are limited examples of metonymy and synecdoche.


No specific examples.

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