Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“An Occasion of Sin” is a clear example of a story written primarily to illustrate a cultural characteristic rather than to explore a universal human trait. As a result, while interesting and suggestive, the story is not profoundly complex but relatively simple. Indeed, there would be no story at all without the somewhat stereotypical cultural difference between the relatively open attitude toward sexuality of the French and the more reserved and repressed attitude of the Irish, deriving from the influence of the Catholic Church.

John Montague is a well-known Irish poet, but the style of “An Occasion of Sin” is not lyrical and poetic but rather straightforwardly realistic. Although the heart of the story is what Françoise at one point calls the basic difference between men and women, the story does not explore any complex psychological basis for this difference.

The point of view of the story is third person, but it stays with the perspective of Françoise, who is both amused and puzzled at the Irish attitude toward sexuality. One result of this point of view is that whereas Françoise is often angered at what she perceives as a stereotype about the French attitude toward sex, she is never quite aware that she is forming a stereotype about the Irish attitude. Moreover, her basing her knowledge of the Irish male on young clerical students creates a completely asexual atmosphere when she meets with them on the beach, reminding her of...

(The entire section is 477 words.)