Themes and Meanings

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 288

At first glance, there is little in this story to suggest that there are any deep themes or meanings. Indeed, for all practical purposes, the story looks like little more than a satirical sketch on life in the west of Ireland. By using the name Praiseach, O’Flaherty seemingly wishes to create a portrait of chaos, confusion, and formlessness. In this he is successful, but there is far more to the story than simply unbridled confusion.

Writing an essay?
Get a custom outline

Our Essay Lab can help you tackle any essay assignment within seconds, whether you’re studying Macbeth or the American Revolution. Try it today!

Start an Essay

This story is about a clash between two cultures, the traditional and the modern, and how the former is helpless when faced with the latter. As postmaster of Praiseach, an “obscure and miserable village,” Martin Conlon represents the old tradition. The young women, on the other hand, represent all that is modern in the world, with their sleek cars, clothes, and manners. The young man, with his fancy clothes yet fluent Irish, stands as a bridge between the two cultures.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The clash between the two cultures comes over the sending of the telegram, itself a representation of the modern culture. When presented with this challenge, the traditional culture—represented by Martin—simply cannot respond. Indeed, Martin’s sole reaction is precisely in tune with the name of his village: confusion. It is the American woman, the symbol of modern culture, who finally completes the telegram.

O’Flaherty also seems to believe that this modern culture will eventually take over the traditional, for the young man, standing as a bridge between the two cultures, certainly favors the modern side. He is humbled by it, telling the soldier that he is not good enough for the American woman. However, at the same time, he takes great pleasure in mocking the traditional culture of Praiseach.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Previous

Summary

Next

Analysis