What is the significance of the title of The Gathering by Anne Enright? Are there any symbols in the novel?
The title of The Gathering by Anne Enright refers most immediately to the gathering of the family together for Liam's funeral after Liam has committed suicide. Symbolically though, it can also suggest the way Veronica gathers events together in her memory to form a coherent narrative, pulling out a wide range of memories of individuals in her family to bring them together around the central theme of possible child abuse in the past. Although Veronica's own activity in the novel is a gathering of memories, she herself seems to stand apart from the lives of her families, both the family in which she grew up and the family in which she is now embedded as wife and mother.
Many of the symbols of the story are related to the Irish Catholicism that forms its religious background. Veronica's awareness of falling is not just literal, but within Catholic context refers to a fall from grace. This symbol serves to make us aware of the mortal sins revealed in the story -- incest, pedophilia, adultery, and suicide -- and Veronica's own failure to confess or reveal them, something that might have prevented Liam's death.