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The Boy

by Jumiry, August 23, 2013

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The anonymity of the boy is suggestive of the overall theme of the story, the insignificance of the individual in the larger society. The boy is unnamed because as the story demonstrates in any number of ways, he is unimportant. He lives with relatives who are not his parents which suggests a problem; it is likely the parents have made the crossing and are not yet established to bring the child over, though another possibility is that they have died as a result of the harshness of Irish life. Other suggestions of insignificance include the indifference of everyone to the boy and his desires. He lives on a blind street populated by houses with blind windows and when he wants to observe Mangin's sister he must part the blinds. These overwhelming suggestions of blindness lead us to the motif of darkness. The boy lives in a world of darkness and despair. The priest, a symbol of Ireland's leading religion is dead; so is the religion and its hope of redemption. Mangin's sister offers hope of release from the mundane world, but she will never be the boy's because he cannot prove himself worthy. He is a creature derided by vanity, the vanity that he might find happiness or that his desires matter in the larger world. That is his epiphany: nothing matters and even if it did it wouldn't matter.

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