Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Like “Home Sickness,” another story appearing in George Moore’s An Untilled Field (1903), “So On He Fares” centers on a protagonist caught between two worlds—in this case, between home and the adventurous world just beyond his garden gate, between the confines of his mother’s discipline and his exciting dreams. Ulick’s mother wants him to know no other place beyond his garden gate. It literally becomes the barrier between him and everything else that he might experience. She is not merely protecting him from the canal, from the possibility of drowning, or from being misled by children and strangers; she is deliberately harnessing him to her will. She has shut out the rest of the world—the world represented by his father’s soldiering. Ulick’s father is always “away.” His mother is always home.

That Ulick’s mother is the only local resident to give her cottage a name and to put that name on her gate symbolizes her isolation and haughtiness. She has made Ulick shy of others, and it takes every bit of resentment that he has to make him run away from home. If he is not cowed by his mother’s harsh words and physical violence (she slaps him often), it is because of his imagination, his ability to conceive of other worlds and to realize that he will grow only by reaching for them.

Ulick’s imagination is emphasized when he is aboard the barge, running away from home. There he cunningly makes up the story about...

(The entire section is 418 words.)