Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2021 Cameron Tumey. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Religion Department

First Advisor

Steven P. Hopkins


A white spider hangs from the ceiling, dangerously close to my shoulder. Its spindly legs delicately hanging like icicles after a snowstorm. A shadowed figure warns me of the spider’s presence. I look up, dart away, and begin grasping at my clothes and hair. In fear, I awake, whirling out of my sleep. My hand brushes a large black spider next to me on the bedsheet. It is motionless, seemingly stunned by my presence. I jump out of bed screaming again, tearing at my clothes, hair, and anything that this explorative creature who has done me no harm may have touched. My father comes into the room hearing my shrieks and immediately kills the spider. A sense of immense guilt fills my body. Still shaking in fear, I feel a chill of grief. I am responsible for the death of a living thing. Since that morning during times of stress and anxiety, all I can think of are spiders, coming from the ceiling, next to me in bed, or hiding within the folds of my clothes, pillows, and blankets. I grasp at the invisible creatures or frantically search my bedding to find nothing but a fleeting certainty that a spider was once there. What shall my explanation of this occurrence be? Is it that I experienced a slight trauma in having a spider as my bedfellow and thus my mind in periods of stress returns to this moment, or have I enraged a spirit by causing its premature earthly death.