When Family Love Strangles and Love Outside the Family Disappoints: The Irish Family in the Early Novels of Kate O’Brien and Edna O’Brien

Vesna Ukić Košta


This paper sets out to examine various representations of the patriarchal Irish family, constricting family ties, and the role of women within the family in Kate O’Brien’s novels The Ante-Room (1934) and Mary Lavelle (1936) and Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls Trilogy (The Country Girls (1960), Lonely Girl (1962) and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964)). The paper attempts to demonstrate that in these works both authors more or less openly defy the Church-state conception of the ideal family and the ground tenets of Catholicism of their time. The aim of the analysis is to show that the novels represent the family as a highly repressive force which constantly supervises women and holds their desires in check throughout their lives.

Keywords: Kate O’Brien, Edna O’Brien, early novels, Irish family, Catholicism.

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