Edited By Marisol Morales-Ladrón
Marisol Morales-Ladrón – Portraits of Dysfunction in Contemporary Irish Women’s Narratives: Confined to the Cell, Lost to Memory
← 28 | 29 →MARISOL MORALES-LADRÓN
‘Wherever there is Ireland there is the Family;and it counts for a great deal’
–G. K. CHESTERTON
ABSTRACT: The present chapter looks at how dysfunction has been represented in the literature produced by Irish women writers since the 1980s. In the novels under discussion, dysfunction is defined in terms of the disclosure of a traumatic event that originated in the past but requires a retrospective unearthing of the harmfully blocked memories of the characters in the present. In order to illustrate instances of family dysfunction throughout the four decades that feature in this study, eight novels have been selected: Julia O’Faolain’s No Country for Young Men (1980), Deirdre Madden’s The Birds of the Innocent Wood (1988), Lia Mills’ Another Alice (1996), Mary O’Donnell’s The Elysium Testament (1999) Anne Enright’s The Gathering (2007), Jennifer Johnston’s Foolish Mortals (2007), Claire Keegan’s Foster (2010) and Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s You (2010). In these narratives, child abuse, domestic violence, incest, neglect, unorthodox motherhood, distressful orphanage and, in general, the wrongdoings of familiar upbringing figure prominently. Furthermore, they expose severe critiques at the values commonly alleged to pertain to the nuclear family and engage into the denouncement of outdated patriarchal tenets whose impositions on society have precisely derived into the surfacing of a wide variety of family dysfunctions.
That the family has commonly stood as a symbol of unity in most cultures of the Eastern and Western sides of the globe...
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