There are a number of themes that are constantly explored throughout the television series Dexter, from the constituents of authenticity, belonging, definitions of justice, even sin and redemption. One under-explored theme in the literature concerning the series is the theme of conversion. This can be taken at a literal level, in which Dexter hints at a conversion to an explicitly Christian faith, particularly in season 6, in the course of his troubled friendship with Brother Sam, the convict turned mechanic turned Christian pastor.
But there is another level of conversion, explored by Rene Girard and in the series itself, which concerns a turning away from former ways of life and worldviews. This is explored in a book chapter by the Divine Wedgie’s Matthew Tan, entitled “Conversion in Dexter“. The book in which this chapter features is entitled Mimesis, Movies and Media, published this year by Bloomberg and edited by Scott Cowdell, Chris Fleming and Joel Hodge. This book, the third in the Violence, Desire and the Sacred series, has various contributions which apply Girardian analyses and his famous theory of mimetic desire and violence to various forms of visual media, particularly movies and television.
The chapter looks at the degree to which Dexter’s process of conversion from his violent double life and even to Christianity can be considered as such by Girard’s mimetic theory as applied to that form of literature we call the novel. Put simply, Girard suggests that in the classic novels, processes of conversion can be detected which in many ways reflect a similar process of conversion in the novelist that created the protagonist. The chapter then explores the degree to which a novelistic conversion can reveal new materials about Dexter. The justification for this is that the main character, Dexter Morgan, can be taken to be a novelist within the show, in light of the frequent audio journaling that takes place throughout the series. The question is then asked if Dexter as novelist undergoes a conversion as described in Girard’s work on novels.
The chapter can be accessed in full here.