The essence of this story is that the narrator is walking along the coast of the West of Ireland and encounters an old woman7 sitting by herself with whom he strikes up a conversation.The entire conversation, however, is one sided as the old woman tells the story of her son Denis who, after falling in love with a local schoolteacher, goes insane.To begin with the moral ambiguity, we can see that the teacher (Miss Regan) obviously encounters a moral decision in deciding whether she should follow the community’s moral standards and not lie beside a man to whom she’s not married or if she should provide comfort to the mentally ill and fulfill his request that she lie beside him.
The essence of this story is that the narrator is walking along the coast of the West of Ireland and encounters an old woman7 sitting by herself with whom he strikes up a conversation.Tags: Archaeology Research PaperProfessional Resume HelpDescription Of A Place EssaysWrite Introduction ThesisEssay On NatureWhat Makes A Good DissertationTelephone Conversation Poem Essay
The narrator of “Guests of the Nation,” after returning from burying the bodies, states, “It is so strange what you feel at such moments, and not to be written afterwards.”3 In this line, O’Connor raises the issue of the ability of discourse to convey experience.
Not only is this unusual for O’Connor’s better known works, but the fact that he places it at the end of the story where it will reflect back and cast doubt upon all which the narrator has stated is even more unusual.
Frank O’Connor’s work is always approached in terms of extremes; on the one hand, we see the world comically through the innocent child narrators of “First Confession” and “My Oedipus Complex”; on the other hand, the tragedy can be seen through the hardened characters in “Guests of the Nation.” Within each of these stories, the most basic notions of good and evil come into conflict as social and private value structures come into conflict producing moral ambiguities.
In each of O’Connor’s stories, this moral ambiguity is illustrated through irony.
Richard Ellmann uses the story to support his thesis that O’Connor, “wanted life to be something other than martyrdom to either a public or private religion.
It should be free and impulsive, as purely unimitidated as the teacher in ‘The Bridal Night,’ who risks contumely to lie in the bed beside her delirious lover.”6 None of these readings challenges or encounters some of the most basic symbols used within this story, for if we carefully examine the metaphors and images of the story, we discover that the story collapses in on itself in that it does not simply represent ambiguity as a signifier, but the story itself is a signified through its ambiguity.
In short, O’Connor creates an ambiguity in the reader’s mind; forcing the reader to re-examine all that they understand of this narrative.
Thus, the story itself becomes questionable not through the language which is present, but in the absences and the silence.
As all of the characters in this story show some degree of idiosyncracy, this could be O’Connor simply putting his own rule aside, or the main character is the narrator of whom we know nothing except that he is the one who is relaying the old woman’s story.
Thus, we have a main character, who except for platitudes and questions which enlighten the old woman’s story, does nothing except describe the scenery.