Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Dublin. Capital of Ireland, in which the entire novel is set. Dublin’s slums offer a squalid backdrop to the criminal activities of the novel’s characters.

Dunboy lodging house

Dunboy lodging house. Dismal excuse for a flophouse where fugitive Frankie McPhillip meets his old comrade Gypo Nolan. Frankie, a member of a paramilitary organization, is wanted for the murder of a union organizer. The lodging house looms as an ugly monstrosity popular among Dublin’s criminal underground. The accommodations are spartan, and the residents emerge as a haggard collection of the unwashed and forlorn. Over a paltry meal, Nolan impulsively decides to inform on his friend and collect the ransom money.

McPhillip home

McPhillip home. Frankie’s family residence. To protect himself from the suspicion of having informed on his friend and to offer condolences, Nolan wanders over to the McPhillip home, and the walk becomes an expressionistic odyssey. A street which was once familiar becomes threatening, as if inhabited by monsters. Thus begins a pattern repeated throughout the novel: Landscape and setting alternate between predatory threat and calming retreat.

The house itself is a refreshing haven from the storm on the lanes and in Nolan’s head. It is the most respectable house on the street, with a parlor window, fresh curtains, spotless stairway, and polished brass railings. Photographs and ornaments decorate the rooms, the kitchen is spacious, and everything is immaculate except Nolan, who stands in motley high relief. In fact, except for the novel’s final setting, another associated with the McPhillips, this house represents the...

(The entire section is 705 words.)