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Alienation in the Butcher Boy

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Elizabeth K.
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documents in English
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book reviews
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5 pages
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  1. Introduction
  2. The theme of the differences in class in the Irish town
  3. Mrs. Nugent and the theft of Philip's comic books by Francie
  4. Francie desire to be a part of the Nugent family
  5. The fakeness of Mrs. Connolly and her friends
  6. His friendship with Joe Purcell
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works cited

In the Butcher Boy, Patrick McCabe paints a picture of the perfectly dysfunctional family in The Bradys, who are shown in stark contrast to the perfectly normal family, the Nugents. From the start, Francie Brady's family was the epitome of unstable. Francie's father was an alcoholic who abused his wife, and she ended up going to a mental institution after a suicide attempt. The hero of the family, Uncle Alo, turned out to just be another phony whose stories were fabricated. Francie had no proper influences in his upbringing to tell him what was right and wrong, which left him to basically take care of himself. Francie wanted to be proud and honor his parents, but at the same time, the only reason he became alienated within the community was because of his family.

[...] is in the treatment of Francie that McCabe achieves his greatest triumph. The complexity of the character contributes to the tonal richness of the novel, as humorous as it is horrific, and?a most impressive accomplishment?never more harrowing than humane. At his most brutal, Francie never moves beyond the boundaries of the reader's sympathy? (Kenney). Francie's intelligence and sensitivity combined with the neglect and abuse from his parents, created a mind susceptible to fantasy. He often reads comic books, he eats lots of candy, he's stuck in the past, and he has vivid daydreams that are often violent. [...]


[...] Scenes such as this alarm the reader because we have understood the insincerity in the town, but now we realize that Francie is aware of it, and is repulsed by it as well. The only part of the community that Francie was a part of, was his friendship with Joe Purcell. The two were best friends as children, but because of Francie's downward spiral into violence and rebellion, Joe detaches himself from Francie. This could also be viewed as a part of the class issue in the town. [...]


[...] This feeds into the class wars in the Butcher Boy, and the need for Mrs. Nugent, Mrs. Connolly, and Leddy to point out the flaws of the Brady family which allows them to ignore their own. Francie realizes the fakeness of Mrs. Connolly and her friends that gossip all day long. ?[Francie's] dialogue is a virtual parody of the meaningless chatter that makes up the better part of everyday life. The humor of Francie's banter with these women reveals his fiction-making abilities, or at least his ability to mimic the superficiality and falseness of the world in which he lives? (Gauthier): The women were standing over by the cornflakes saying things have got very dear. [...]

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