Style and Technique

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Last Updated on May 10, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 183

The story is written in Morley Callaghan’s usual reportorial style, with succinct character sketches and highly selective physical details, providing the necessary context for dialogue that serves to propel the narrative forward. The third-person narration is coyly noncommittal about the old priest’s thoughts and feelings until the very end of the story. Nothing “seemed” to shock Father Macdowell; he walked “as if” his feet hurt; he “didn’t seem to hear”; he sighed “as if” he were tired. The prose style is evasive, in a sense, and prepares the reader to accept Father Macdowell as both a sincere priest and as a consummate actor who can adapt himself to different situations.

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Callaghan’s muted style gives the effect of looking through the narrative directly into unmediated reality. Part of the reason for Callaghan’s success in conveying a sense of reality or authenticity in his writing is that he gets the details right when he describes a particular occupation or activity. Father Macdowell is a completely convincing portrait of an old priest, and one of the more memorable clerics in literature.

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Themes