Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

In this first-person narrative, O’Connor uses an informal, almost provincial style. Because the characters are Irish, as is O’Connor, many colloquialisms appear throughout the story to add authenticity to the realistic narration. For example, instead of skipping school, the boys “go on the lang” and engage in “mitching.” Rather than say “my mother,” the narrator always says “the mother.” Moreover, Sonny, the “little prig,” is “stuffed up” and tells the Dohertys that Larry “isn’t left go out.” Instead of drinking excessively, Larry’s father “had a drop in.” This conversational, provincial dialogue suggests a working-class Irish family.

O’Connor’s deliberately repetitious use of the conjunction “and” intensifies the lesson that Larry learns at the end of the story: He sees that “Father was mean and common and a drunkard and that she [the mother] had been relying” on him. The last sentence reinforces the intensification: “And I knew . . . I should turn out to be mean and common and a drunkard.”