Trojan Sofa

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The Trojan Sofa

Bernard MacLaverty brings us “The Trojan Sofa”, a short story that incorporates a corrosive relationship between a boy and his father, Niall and Da.  The title itself suggests that deceit and deception is a feature of the story, as it turns out, this is two-fold.  MacLaverty has innovatively chosen to use the first-person narrative mode to enable the reader to become much more familiar with Niall and warm to him as a character.  With Niall being the narrator, he speaks sincerely of Da but the reader is forced to read between the lines to ascertain just how sincere Da is towards Niall.

We are introduced to Da’s deceitful ways from the outset, tricking customers in a chit-chat style way to get “clued in” on how secure their homes are whilst conjuring a plan to rob them.  This enlightens us to his character, and ultimately defines our views of his immoral ways.  Not content with misleading his customers, his son, Niall is also misled, but to a much greater extent.

Being 11 years old, we assume that Niall is aware that burgling is morally wrong, after all, he “got the eleven-plus – no problem” but Da has convinced him that their actions are for the greater good.  The British people they are stealing from have wronged their country and the” war” they have caused allows for them to “do anything in retaliation”.  Da is able to justify his actions by playing the patriotic card “one up for old Ireland” suggesting to Niall that in addition to their personal gain, more importantly, Ireland has also gained.

It is clear that Niall has adopted Da’s views on all things Irish, convincing him to “do it for the first time” was not without manipulation “it is for Ireland” was the convincing phrase Da used on Niall.  Because Niall has embraced his father’s beliefs fully, he is able to rationalise the burglaries, even minimise their criminal implication because all he has to do is follow the usual “modus operandi”.

Niall, shows his immaturity and...
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