• This book-length paper is a Brown University dissertation in American literature and literary theory. A theoretical analysis of the concept of authorial intention in narrative fiction, and of its structural and communicational implications, is followed by an in-depth examination of Stephen Crane’s novella ‘The Monster’ (1898) as a case study in both structural analysis and critical controversy. The critical responses to this work are examined with regard to their ideological and aesthetic assumptions, thus showing the relevance of the model proposed and providing a detailed analysis of the way in which the meaning and structure of a text are interactionally constructed.