Who we are and where we belong are one of life's essential questions, we spend most of our lives trying to answer. The people who raise us, in most cases our parents, and the environment we grow up in, usually have the most influence on who we will become. Identity, the past and present and the relationship between parents and their children are some of the themes Colm Tóibín focuses on in his short story “A Journey” from 2006.
The story takes place in a modern times period, and is most likely set in a small-town society as everything seems very familiar. In the story we follow the main character Mary and her son David on the drive home from a mental Hospital, where David has been a patient for the past 7 months. The language is informal and simple, giving the impression that this is a middle-class family. The story is told from Mary's point of view, in a 3rd person limited narrative.
Mary is a middle-aged woman with thick blond hair and a large-boned face. She is married to Seamus, who after several strokes now lies paralyzed in bed. She wants to be a good mother but her insecurities, and perhaps her age has made that difficult for her. She is very dependent on others and find it hard to handle anything on her own. Ever since her son David was born she has had help taking care of him from her neighbor Mrs. Redmond, who would come and help out every day when David was a child. And even though David is now grown up, Mrs. Redmond still comes and help Mary, now with her invalid husband. Mary does not know or understand her son, his silence makes her uneasy, and she feels rejected by him. She hanker for verification that what has happened to her son is not her fault, and that she has done the right thing for him: “But it was the best thing at the time, wasn't it? I mean, there wasn't anything else we could have done.” 1
Mary and Seamus 20-year-old son David suffers from depression. He has inherited his mothers blond hair, and resemble his...