In terms of description in Such Is My Beloved, why might Callaghan use age-related words (Ex: boy, girl, young, old) so often?  Do you notice a strange omission in how Callaghan described Ronnie...

In terms of description in Such Is My Beloved, why might Callaghan use age-related words (Ex: boy, girl, young, old) so often?  Do you notice a strange omission in how Callaghan described Ronnie and Midge?

Asked on by suzyq22

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one particular reason why Callaghan might use age- related words is to heighten the Christian transcendence with which Father Dowling goes about his task.  The age related words like "boy" and "girl" speak to the universal condition of Christian redemption that lies at the heart of Father Dowling's purpose in the narrative:  

Father Dowling had preached a sermon on the inevitable separation between Christianity and the bourgeois world, and he spoke with a fierce warm conviction, standing in the pulpit and shaking his fist while his smooth black hair waved back from his wide white forehead and his cheeks were flushed from his glowing enthusiasm.

In using age related terms, it becomes clear that this is how Dowling sees the world.  In a Christian world view, all human beings are children, boys and girls, of the universal father.  Jesus serves the ultimate patriarch in which no matter our age, we are child- like comparison.  Youthful descriptors help to enhance the Christian cosmology with which Father Dowling appropriated consciousness in the world.  The sermon in which there was a separation "between Christianity and the bourgeois world" can be overcome if everyone, including wealthy parishioners and the prostitutes, was representative of his worldview. This is a condition where victory has to be seen in a different, non- contingent light:  "Thus though Father Dowling has failed by all temporal standards in his quest, he has, in the best sense of the Christian faith, triumphed."   It is to this end in which the use of age related worlds might help to highlight Father Dowling's transformative view of being in the world.

In terms of a "strange omission" in how Callaghan describes Ronnie and Midge, I think that more clarification is needed.  Indeed, both prostitutes are described in manners where Father Dowling can see the spiritual aspect within them.  They occupy the role of Martha and Mary in terms of how Father Dowling sees them in terms of preparing food and listening to his teachings.  Over time in the narrative, the omission might be in what they come to represent.  As Father Dowling becomes more driven to save them, they no longer become prostitutes.  Rather, Father Dowling sees them as representative of that division of which he speaks in his opening sermon between "Christianity and the bourgeois world."  If Callaghan engages in a "strange omission," it might be representative of how Father Callaghan sees them more than human beings.  He sees them as something more, representing the means through which salvation can be achieved.  It is for this reason he sacrifices for them, as they represent more than human beings, but rather souls to be saved through sacrifice.  If there is a strange omission in description, it might reside in this domain, a capacity in which Father Dowling sees them as embodying more than prostitutes or even human beings, but a test of his own faith.

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