Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Moore writes in a direct, unadorned style. He seems to be telling no more than the story of one man’s life, of one episode that defines that life. In a sense, it has been a life of homesickness in a number of different senses. Bryden initially leaves Ireland, it is implied, because he is sick of it; he returns because he is sick without it. The land remains a touchstone for him, measuring everything he thinks about himself and his new life across the Atlantic.

Much of the story is told in an objective fashion: The narrator explains Bryden’s experiences and his feelings about them but does not comment on the validity of his thoughts. How other people treat him is merely reported. That Bryden thinks the village priest is a tyrant is Bryden’s opinion; the narrator does not judge him or the priest. Bryden’s opinions about the Bowery are his alone, tersely reported by the narrator, but not otherwise discussed.

The tone of the story is that of a report, fleshed out with revealing dialogue and brief but superbly etched descriptions of scenery and characters. The narrator serves as a historian and guide, who also conveys the grace and hardship of people’s lives and the inner struggle of Bryden’s homesickness. The story’s authority derives from the narrator’s meticulous accumulation of revealing details. The story’s power is a result of picking just the right dramatic moments to convey Bryden’s subtle shifts of attitude—meeting...

(The entire section is 426 words.)