What is a summary of "Juno and the Paycock" by Sean O'Casey?

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tiesnj22 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juno and the Paycock, a play by Sean O’ Casey, is set in the working tenements of Dublin in 1922 and tells the story of the Boyle family during the Irish Civil War. The patriarch of the Boyle family, Jack Boyle, spends his days drinking in the pub instead of working. Jack often blames pains in his legs for his inability to work although these pains only appear when he is confronted with the need to work. The family matriarch, Juno Boyle, does work outside of the home and is, in fact, the only income earner in the Boyle family. The daughter, Mary, is on strike from her job and therefore out of work. The son, Johnny, is disabled and thus incapable of earning any income.

At the end of the first act, the Boyle’s receive news that one of Jack’s relatives has died and left him a large inheritance. In response to this news, Jack vows to change his ways.

Despite his promise to change his ways, and within only a few days of learning of the inheritance, Jack begins to foolishly spend large sums of money on credit.

Two months after learning of the inheritance, it is discovered that Mary has become pregnant by Mr. Bentham, who had been courting her. It is also during this time that the family learns that, due to an error made by Mr. Bentham, the family would not be receiving the inheritance as expected. Out of embarrassment for the error made in the will, Bentham flees the country leaving Mary, who is pregnant with his child. Johnny, the Boyle’s son, is kidnapped by the IRA and a body matching his description is found by the side of a country road. Before going to the police station to identify Johnny’s body, Juno sends Mary to live with relatives and decides that she will leave Jack.

Sometime later, Jack returns home in a drunken state. He is unaware that his son has died or that his wife and daughter have left him.

pnhancock eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play Juno and the Paycock, written by Sean O'Casey, tells the story of the Boyle family. The play takes place in a Dublin tenement in 1922, just after the Irish Civil War began. The Boyle family consists of father Jack, who spends his days drinking at the pub; mother Juno, the only working member of her family; daughter Mary, who is on strike; and son Johnny, who cannot work due to disability. One day, the family receives a large inheritance from one of Jack's relatives, and he promises to change his lifestyle.

Instead, Jack begins recklessly spending on credit, while the family fails to receive the inheritance. Mary also becomes pregnant with the child of Mr. Bentham, who delivered the news of the family's inheritance, and he suddenly disappears. Jack discovers that he will not receive his money because Bentham failed to draft the will correctly, and that his disappearance was the result of his fleeing the country in shame over the error. Around this time, Johnny, who was an informant for the army, is kidnapped by the IRA and a body matching his description is found by a country road. The play ends with Mary leaving to live with a relative, and Juno leaving to identify Johnny's body, with plans to leave her husband afterwards. Jack returns home from the pub, unaware that his son is dead and the rest of his family has left him, and drunkenly considers his final sixpence.

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Juno and the Paycock

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