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RODDY DOYLES POINT OF VIEW IN A STAR CALLED HENRY

- IRISH WORKING CLASS (DUBLIN + SLAOINTHE CASTLE, LIMERICK, DERRY)


- IRISH SLUMS FAMINE/POOR/CANNIBALISM
- SLANG ENGLISH
- NAMES AND ORIGINS
- WAR (SPIES, MERCENARIES)
- RELIGION - CORRUPTION
- SECURITY - CORRUPTION
- EDUCATION
- WAR - SEX (SEX DURING WAR)
- LITERATURE
- RACISM (IRELAND NORTHERN IRELAND ENGLAND - SCOTLAND) IRELAND AS A
COLONY (ACCENTS) AND PATRIOTISM (FUCK FOR YOUR COUNTRY AND PUTTING IRISH
NAMES LIKE SAOIRSE)
- AMERICA (REACHING FREEDOM AND MONEY)
- MUSIC
- WOMEN depicted(SIMBOLISM - MEN: SHOVEL; WOMEN: SHAWL)
- Granny nash

INTRODUCTION

BODY

- ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CONCLUSION

REFERENCES

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Roddy-Doyle

To start with the context of the conflict, Roddy Doyle has been focused through the whole
work on the worst reality in Ireland before the Easter Rising: the poorest side or, speaking
more specifically, the slums. A very high infant mortality (from miscarriages and induced
abortions to deaths of the newborns), famine and survival are the main topics that describe
the atmosphere surrounding Ireland before 1906. Following these points, the reader can feel,
even smell, how devastating was living in such a depressed land on the working class side. Lets
put as an example the way Henry the Second or the Third was observed and judged just for
being born in good weight and physical health -Youre big, she (Henrys mother) said. She was
accusing me, weighing me, planning to take me back (p.1). And do not forget the smell,
because lexicon is crucial here: rotten, stench, filth and shit can picture the scene.

Although there is no room for astonishing descriptions of the characters, several love stories
are placed

There is a shocking but realistic description about Dublin at that time, before and after the
Easter Rising:
Doyle tells the story of the Easter Rising through the eyes of the working class who makes his
life in the slums, a place where poverty go to its extreme: death. - The peasants will form the
backbone of this nation [] They will in their holes [] They couldnt form a fuckin queue (p.
253). A very high infant mortality or sad stories (p. 284) (from miscarriages and induced
abortions to deaths of the newborns), famine (- Im starving Thats often the way p. 267) and
survival are the main topics that describe the atmosphere surrounding Ireland before 1916.
Following these points, the reader can feel, even smell, how devastating was living in such a
depressed land on the working class side. Lets put as an example the way Henry the Second or
the Third was observed and judged just for being born in good weight and physical health -
Youre big, she (Henrys mother) said. She was accusing me, weighing me, planning to take me
back (p.1). And do not forget the smell, because lexicon is crucial here: rotten, stench, filth
and shit can picture the scene. People there was starving, continuously struggling to eat and
maintain themselves alive, so that is not a surprise that cannibalism is shown at the very
beginning of the work, as we will see later in the part of Monarchy.

The language used stands between formal and informal, something which is an intelligent
weapon to tell reality and be able to transmit it in a clear and pure way. That is why slang
English covers the entire novel, from isolate words such as shite, gobshite, foul, etc to more
elaborated syntactic constructions like Ill keep you posted, an essential sentence that
maintains its use nowadays. Obviously, A Star Called Henry shows teeth, for a work written by
an Irish cannot be better represented if there is no Gaeilge in it: Maithu and Slainte are some
hints of this linguistic part connected to culture and story.

A relevant topic here is the lack of origins because it can be seen as an irrelevant fact or, on the
contrary, something that fundamentally suits the novel. A good tool to make the reader more
aware of the uncertain and volatile atmosphere is that Henrys ancestors origins are not fully
known and the other characters are not even noticed or mentioned. This accident caused on
purpose depicts the kind of society that is represented in the book: the nobles always have
common heritage, but something very important here is the time period: the late 19th century
and the beginning of the 20th century. This means that almost every social group that shapes
the pyramid has known relatives, even in the country where everybody knows everybody. Now
here comes the truth of this very small fact: in a place where people die day after day, how
poor has to be this social group depicted in the novel when their ancestors are not known and
even people can lie to their nearest corner neighbors about their own names and surnames.

The Easter Rising and the following civil war are the two most major events. Some armed
groups named there are the Irish Republican Brotherhood (I.R.B) and the Irish Republican
Army (I.R.A), the Volunteers, Cumann na mBan and Sinn Fin. However, Doyle also narrates
underlying armed groups working within these factions: mercenaries (veterans whod been
unable to get work in England and Scotland after the war, p.258), spies and assassins. The
main character finds himself trapped in a world where just a few ones are who they pretend to
be in a board game where there is no clear distinction between factions. One of the pilar glues
is manipulation of the information to fit each army parties interests. Take out opponent, put in
enemy, and Ill credit it to Mick in the next Bulletin and hope that none of the foreign
correspondents have read Von Clausewitz recently (p. 255).
Among the others, a few social groups are targeted throughout the novel: some ones in a
more obvious way, and some others in a different manner.

Monarchy is at the top of the obvious ones who are clearly attacked, lets see the graceful
adjectives accompanying Queen Victoria: the Famine Queen (also related to poverty, as
previously seen), . Security services are also shown with rude words: to start with, rozzer is the
name a policeman typically gets, and rozzers are not well-seeing, more particularly in Dublin at
that time.

But above these social groups, even above society, the one that is continuously targeted is the
church. Henrys birth can be considered one of the hugest jibes to Christianity. All the girls who
work in the brothel, prostitutes who are continuously raped for a quid, are called Mary, the
one portrayed as virgin and pure in the Bible, the one who carried Jesus Christ without being
sexually touched.

If the recreation of Jesus Christ birth in a slum in Ireland and the joke of putting the name of a
Virgin to prostitutes are not enough to show how sacred Doyle wants religion to be seen, the
pretended miracle of the growing leg hits the nail on the head (p. 281).

Education is slightly referenced when Henry and Victor go to school and have to escape only a
few days later. There is no room for education when people and children are starving.

LITERATURE AND GRANNY NASH

Oh Granny Nash! Maybe the most complete character in A Star Called Henry. There is some
mystery about her origins but it does not affect the incorruptible identity of this woman. In an
Ireland where everything seems to vanish and die at every time, reading keeps her completed
and as pure as she is. At one point Granny might be shown as a crazy person, when the bombs
are exploding and the rifles dont shut up, and she walks through the street carrying books and
reading at the same time as if anything was not happening around her. This support crucial for
the end of the novel comes not only from reading, but as well from the authors she chooses:
female authors. It is obvious that she is considered as a witch and a demon even from her own
grandson because of her intelligence, but once it is shown that wisdom can save even the lost
souls. A book for a clue. That is why she continues learning and enjoying her life while Henry
discovers the truth hidden behind him.

Irish citizens know that they are different from Great Britain. Unfortunately they know that it is
not in the good sense. They are being cheated, for Ireland is another colony like many others,
subjugated to the British Crown and power. Taking into account that the Easter rising is the
perfect example that can show this idea, there is another one in the novel very significant:
when the little Henry has the necessity of shouting fuck off to the Queen Victoria.

A Star Called Henry also shows bits of the strong racism surrounding the British Isles at that
moment. It is relevant that Irish citizens put themselves at the top of the racial pyramid, but it
is as well significant how they undervalue British citizens (even Scottish people are at the
bottom of this discrimination) for example when they try to tell other peoples accents in order
to know if they are reliable or not. But then something more shocking for the reader is found:
there is already discrimination between Irish from the almost independent Republic of Ireland
and Northern Ireland. So it is hardly surprising that the name of Henrys daughter is Saoirse
(freedom in Gaeilge) after a familiar argument about the importance of a name.

America is the land of hope, the land of freedom and money, or this is how it was expected in
Ireland in the late 19th century.

MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC

Songs, as well as for the Irish culture, were essential for this storytelling. Roddy Doyle has
carried out a paramount research task in investigating reference books for this mission. He put
music lyrics in places where other words cannot completely explain a specific situation. It is
relatable that the author is very fond of music, for there is a musical reference even in
characters: Melody Melody Nash, the tap tap of the wooden leg, etc

GENDER ROLES

If gender roles in A Star Called Henry could be explained in a sentence, it could be this one:
there is no man without a shovel as well as there is no woman without a shawl.

The main role of men was related to their strength. They were hard workers who brought
money to their homes, loyal fighters for Ireland, loyal fighters for Great Britain, loyal fighters
for America, etc... (well, for any country that needed and paid them) and of course,
unquestionable love finders and married cheaters (for the success of the core brothel). They
tell that they do what they are told by their women and they do not see their ladies doing
anything different from being at home caring for the hearth and the children.

This is the depiction shown by Doyle for men. He does the same with women but, in this case,
the landscape is more complex and the critical point of view can be told.

In a world where gender roles picture the scene, Roddy Doyles great work does not fit a
hundred per cent with the usual tired old stereotypes. First of all, Miss OSheara deserves a
closely study. She is presented as woman captive by gender conventions, who works as a
teacher because she is not married. She is, some years ago, enrolled in the Cumann na mBan
to fight for its country while men condemn her for not being in the standard place reserved for
women. Its strength is able to amaze her own husband and lover, who starts being worried
about saving her life and who finally finds himself in her arms, being his life saved by her.
when I looked and saw the ground jumping below me, she was carrying me (p. 265). But
surprises come in threes, because OSheara eventually has a baby and lefts it to her mother in
order to keep on fighting for Ireland. It seems that her role through the novel could be
accidental and a simple social critic, but she portrays the important values of a woman who is
fighting against its own society. She does not grab prominence in Doyles work but proves to
be decisive in Henrys survival.

The future of women depends on their marriage and to the person they marry.

REFERENCES
Doyle, Roddy. (2005) A Star Called Henry. London: Vintage.