(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Delia Carty, until the age of nineteen, had always been a “respectable” girl, but working as a maid for the O’Gradys proved to be her ruin, mainly because of the bad example they set for her. Within six months she was smoking and within a year she acquired a young lover named Tom Flynn, the son of farmer Ned Flynn. The narrator says that Tom is no great catch, being a big, uncouth galoot who loves to drink and chase the girls. After a two-year love affair, Delia becomes pregnant.

This is very bad news for Tom, who knows that his father “would first beat hell out of him and then throw him out and leave the farm to his nephews”; in this section of Ireland, no laborer’s daughter is considered suitable for a farmer’s son. Delia has to tell her mother, who persuades their parish priest, Father Corcoran, to talk to Tom’s father about a possible marriage. As expected, however, Ned Flynn will not hear of it; in fact, he will not even agree to a small financial arrangement. This leads the narrator to remark, “Then, of course, the fun began.”

When Delia Carty’s father is told, he beats his daughter. Then he broods and grows angry about this blemish to his family name. He says, “Justice is what I want,” so he brings Delia to Jackie Canty, the solicitor in town. Delia, although reluctant about bringing any kind of legal action against the man she loves, tells Canty that she has nothing in writing from Tom. She is upset when Canty informs her that Tom and his father will certainly claim that someone else is the father. Delia maintains that “Tom could never say that,” but she is wrong. This is exactly the charge that Tom and his father decide to levy during the court case.

After Delia’s baby is born, the court action begins. The Flynns’ solicitor, Peter Humphreys, does not like the case at all,...

(The entire section is 755 words.)