Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Homesickness in George Moore’s story is clearly a complicated emotion. When Bryden returns to Duncannon, he regards it with curiosity, but he seems to have lost his feeling for it as a home. He is estranged from nearly everyone except the successful Mike Scully. The villagers treat Bryden as a successful man more than as one of their own. They are more interested in welcoming him as a new American than they are in renewing ties with a native-born neighbor. Bryden confirms their attitude by taking little interest in them. He is curious about them but not very attached to their lives. His home, it seems, is now in the United States.

The atmosphere of village life is so powerful that Bryden begins to relax and feel at home. He gradually accustoms himself to the simplicity of the people and enjoys drinking and dancing with them. He has made a place for himself and recovered his sense of home. When he falls in love with Margaret Dirkin, he fulfills the cliché that home is where the heart is. He knows that her family will welcome him as a good match who will make her life far better than she ever could have dreamed.

Bryden’s homesickness, however, is an afflicted state of mind that neither Duncannon nor the Bowery can entirely cure. Neither place can be a complete home to him because he is caught between living his life on two contradictory scales. Duncannon offers peace and quiet, an abiding sense of identity with the land and its people; the...

(The entire section is 447 words.)