A Journey by Colm Tóibín

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A Journey
Colm Tóibín

There comes a time in life, where humans look back on their past actions in the search of a clarification as to why their life is as it is. Every decision you make carries an impact on how your future is going to shape itself. It is at this moment that one will consider whether you made the wrong or the right choices, and imagine what their life would be, had they made a different choice. “A Journey” is a short story by Colm Tóibín, which focuses on self-evaluation and eventually taking over command of your future.

In the story a mother named Mary is in a tough spot. Her son David has a depression and her husband Seamus has been paralyzed. The story itself is a third person narration, which is limited in the way that we only see it from Mary’s perspective. In the story Mary is driving her son home from the hospital, and during this drive she experiences a series of flashbacks from her past life. She wonders whether she and Seamus could have done anything differently in order to stop her son from becoming depressed “Were they to blame, and in what way?” (p. 2 ll. 30-31). The technique of the flashbacks is minimalistic because we are not granted any comments by the author, which means that it is up to the reader to interpret her flashbacks in context with her present situation as an attempt to understand the higher meaning of the story. In the story she experiences a full life of flashbacks with joyful times with David and Seamus and her months of nursing her father. Seemingly intentionally these memories are a contrast to her current life in which she is experiencing depressing behaviour from David and Seamus. Thereby the journey is not just physical, by driving a car, on the contrary also mentally as another journey goes on in her mind.

The first and most obvious theme is the journey of self-assessment, hence the title ‘A Journey’. Seamus and Mary had lived...
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