Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Moore’s use of dialogue moves the account of Julia Cahill’s curse from the format of a tale to that of a dramatic exposition of the problem. The narrator of the story, the cart driver, represents the uneducated, credulous Irish peasants who populated Julia Cahill’s history, implicitly supporting the theme of the story. The speech patterns of the person listening to the cart driver reveal someone who is educated; his comments and questions indicate a skeptical worldview. This contrast between narrator and listener heightens one of the author’s main points: Because of clerical domination, the people in these backward Irish villages have lost contact with the intellectual development of the rest of the world.

The title of the story, “Julia Cahill’s Curse,” also symbolizes the spiritual malaise of the Irish people living in the village. The narrator believes the legend that twenty years earlier someone witnessed Julia Cahill raising her hands to the sky and calling down a curse. The listener’s incredulity, however, represents the reader’s understanding that people are emigrating from the village not because of a curse but rather to find freedom of growth and development. Although the narrator apparently still does not recognize that self-destruction, not the curse of the woman who was ostracized for insisting on self-determination, is responsible for the village’s deterioration, he too is emigrating to the United States and superstitiously...

(The entire section is 452 words.)