(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“All Sorts of Impossible Things” is told in the first person, primarily through the point of view of the main character, lonely schoolmaster James Sharkey. The story begins with Sharkey and his friend Tom Lennon spending a Sunday afternoon hunting rabbits with two hounds; one, Coolcarra Queen, is a retired racing dog belonging to Lennon, and the other is a mongrel that Sharkey has borrowed from Charlie’s bar. Though they are unaware of it, this will be their last Sunday spent hunting because of Lennon’s failing health. After an afternoon without seeing any rabbits, the dogs finally raise one, which leads them on an exhausting chase before eventually eluding them.Synopsis: The death of a friend causes a lonely Irish man to reflect on the emptiness of his own life.}

An agricultural instructor, Tom Lennon is currently employed on a temporary contract and is preparing for exams to determine whether he will be offered a permanent job. His knowledge of his profession is not the problem; rather, he is concerned that his congenital heart defect will cause him to fail the required physical exam. As a husband and father, he needs the security for his family that a permanent position would provide.

After Lennon leaves for home with his dog, whose paws are wounded from running on the hard ground, Sharkey returns the mongrel to Charlie’s bar and observes Charlie’s elaborate way of hiding his drinking from his wife. He also indulges in a moment of resentment and jealousy over Lennon’s apparently successful marriage, followed by an inward expression of concern over the possibility that his friend will lose his job. The narrator makes special reference to the fact that Sharkey has not removed his hat.

The sequence that follows is a flashback that reveals and explains Sharkey’s notable...

(The entire section is 748 words.)