Set in Derry during the 1950s, the book is narrated by a young boy whose family is haunted by a terrible secret, born out of the political and religious divisions which have blighted the province. Ghosts haunt people, fairies linger, dreams take on lives of their own, and echoes of long forgotten warriors remain in the land. I think my memory of the book has suffered because I was reading the book with a purpose in mind rather than enjoying it in its own right. Freedom to do what you should, that was another. I would have welcomed more of these as the story progressed, but Deane abandoned them in favor of a more serious tone.
We know that it was a huge cultural factor at the time. Nothing is greatly described in detail, but it is implied. The Protestants had more than we had. It is therefore socially realistic. The boy was playing, and he forgot that he was to go to Una's grave and put flowers on it. The narator is given a death-bed confession by his grandfather about an event concerning the boys own parents and this secret and the keeping of it ultimately drives a wedge between his relationship with both parents. The priest drove the spirit out, yet at night, the image of a child in pain could be seen in the window.
The Priests were always trying to help the young people be moral and honest. In a world of no answers, moreover no questions - and of a hope that people will learn to accept, to just take things for granted; the boy asks How could they all be so sure. Eppure, come se fosse un poliziesco, pian piano la storia si svela; ci si rende conto di aver seguito un'indagine, un'indagine lirica. Sadly the family barricades never did come down, and this makes it even more tragic when the actual political barricades are lifted. And there are some hard themes in this book. Guardian, 28 Oct 1996, p9.
Much of what he writes about the continuing violence, prejudice and trouble in Northern Ireland is factual—even if his characters are fictitious. A major theme running through the novel concerns the choices that individuals make about whether to keep secrets or to share the information and the impact that these choices have on themselves and other people. With a mo I'm not sure how this book got into my personal library. It is not long after the event at the turn of the stairs, the boy took a trip to the circus with his brother and sister. A young boy grows up in Ireland. I felt tossed onto the streets of Derry, violence simmering just below the surface of every interaction.
Secrets and lies can wreak havoc on a family but when the family lives in the city of Derry in the North of Ireland during the troubles, the secrets can be more dangerous especially when the secret is connected to the troubles. As a result of her actions she is tortured by a mixture of guilt and grief. A thread of the cathedral and the world hanging in his window. Reading In The Dark is a first person account of an extraordinary childhood. His understanding of the dynamic relationship between life and literature is also evident in his introduction to the subject of Irish autobiography in the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing vol. Much of the information about Eddie and McIlhenny was kept secret over the years and the boy never fully understands whether his father ever suspected or knew about his wife's earlier relationship with McIlhenny.
At the crux of it is a family secret and the nameless child narrator's growing up is characterized by this secret with people around him talking things he doesn't understand at first. It might be because this showed some badly needed eye contact. I think this moment was very marked. There are enemies on both sides of every fence, so wherever you climb down, beware. While the novel takes us through a 16-year period from 1945 to 1961, it does refer back to a period twenty years earlier to when Eddie disappeared in 1922 after the attack on the distillery, to 1926 when McIlhenny left for Chicago, to when his parents first met in 1930 and to when they got married in 1935.
For a long time I wasn't even sure it was a novel at all; it seemed more like a memoir, episodic in style. The unnamed narrator describes his Catholic boyhood in Derry in the 40s and 50s. There are several brothers and sisters as well, but they also only play minor roles. The novel skillfully displays the bitterly divided society of Derry, and the destructive effects of this division on the family involved. Problem is I've read so much Irish lit, past and present, on the same subject, and it becomes like reading yet another work on evil legacy of American slavery: there's Morrison's Beloved and there's everything else. These are briefly mentioned and used as landmarks to guide the structure of the book. To be an informer was one of the worst possible crimes that any person could commit — to inform on your own people for a few pounds was unforgivable.
On the surface, the family seems to be stable enough. This volume is carefully shaped by patterns of departure and return, as the poet moves between local and international experience, trying to make sense of his surroundings through constantly shifting perspectives. There is little trust between friends or even family members and secrets are tearing everyone apart. It's as though some scientific or mathematical equation could inform this fact. But the feet of his mother and father show that love is present. Politics, religion, and family secrets are the threads that entwine to create this Irish history, one that sounds like a memoir but evidently is not.