“It was very unforeseen of Jeremiah Donovan, anyhow.”
-Frank O’Connor, Guests of the Nation
Guests of the Nation expresses horror, and dealing with the violence it depicts in an anti-heroic, realistic manner, which allows no evasion for the reader. We must constantly confront ironies and displace our hopes in order to effectively osmose the burdens of our narrator, Bonaparte. “Guests of the Nation presents us with a seemingly absurd situation – made all too real by the plethora of mundane detail” (Korner). Bonaparte helps us draw in our surroundings while making us privy to information, information that would inculpate him, and in turn we give him our trust. Bonaparte and Noble are young. When presented with the two English, “(we) took them over with a natural feeling of responsibility”, a duty that would demand they defy other natural feelings. “I couldn’t at the time see the point of me and Noble guarding Belcher and Hawkins at all”, says Bonaparte. The two English, Belcher the big and Hawkins the small could’ve rooted anywhere. They were like a “native weed”. Native in their amalgamation, but a weed competes with the cultivated plants of the region. “Hawkins… showed that he knew more about the country than we did”, says Bonaparte. Hawkins knew a few commemorative Irish dances, but Bonaparte could not return the compliment, “… because his lads did not dance foreign dances on principle”. Bonaparte is not actively xenophobic, but aware and sensitive to the xenophobic habits of his peers. His desire to return the compliment indicates increasingly comrade like relations between them. Belcher is observed as a large, contented poor devil. Gaining the confidence of his hostess by helping her break sticks, a symbol of authority. In contrast, his comrade Hawkins is small, pugnacious, and lazy. He constantly complains and argues with Noble, and when Noble has had enough of it, he does the same with the hostess. There is a drought, which Hawkins...
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