Though relatively minor characters in the story, the eponymous sisters have great significance in relation to the story's outcome. For it is through the sisters that we find out about the details of Father Flynn's shocking mental and physical decline in the time leading up to his death.
In imparting this crucial information the sisters elaborate on the vague statement made by Old Cotter that there was something peculiar about Father Flynn. Apparently, the duties and responsibilities of the priesthood were getting too much for him. The psychological stress of carrying out his priestly duties was so great that, one day, he broke the chalice. From then on, it was all downhill, and Father Flynn was never truly the same after that.
Father Flynn's sister Eliza has the last word, which is instructive. In telling the narrator and his mother the terrible truth about Father Flynn's decline she is acting as a kind of gatekeeper to his memory, putting forward a version of events which she hopes will...
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