National family allegory: Irish men and post-independence novels and film
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This dissertation explores the ideological functions of the National Family Allegory in post-Independence novels and film created by male authors and film directors. Ideology functions as a lingering force in service of the status quo, the current power structure, and these works recreate the same family structures as those established during colonization and through national myth. The roles of Mother Ireland, savior sons, and failing fathers repeat, sometimes through creative means. Although the texts attempt to subvert the allegory, many post-Independence works eventually show the traditional and conservative family structure of the National Family Allegory. The first chapter, “Importantly Motherless: Spontaneous Child Creation and Male Maternity,” analyzes the connection between the missing Mother figure and male fantasies of pregnancy and child creation. Because of the lack of stable family structure, usually connected to early childhood abandonment or mistreatment, the novels discussed in this chapter show the absolute necessity of family in creating a personal and national identity. In the second chapter, “’You Can’t Protect Your Women’”: Male Irish Terrorists as Protector in Popular American and Irish Films, 1984-1998,” the young man/son protagonist in his role as protector of the woman/Mother figure is analyzed in six different films. In the third chapter, “Articulation and Stasis: The Son as Haunted Echo of the Father in McCann’s Songdogs,” discusses the father and son dynamic in relation to the missing mother in this diasporic novel to indicate that the Irish National Family Allegory holds true even during the dispersion of post-Famine Irish identity. The last chapter, “Failing Fathers,” examines the father figure in Roddy Doyle’s A Star Called Henry, Patrick McCabe’s The Butcher Boy, and John McGahern’s Amongst Women. A father’s traditional role is to function in the public sphere and also to control the family, yet each of these father’s fail in their roles, which is typical of the National Family Allegory role established within the literature.
Trayers, Shane Nicole (2006). National family allegory: Irish men and post-independence novels and film. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from