Would you like to live in the world of ‘Philadelphia Here I Come?’ Explain your answer with relevant reference to the text.
Why I would not like to live in the world of Philadelphia Here I Come.
There are a number of reasons why I would not like to live in the world of the text that Gar and his father inhabit in Philadelphia Here I Come and in this answer I am going to go through each one, including social class, role of men and women, the power of religion, the lack of communication between men and poverty.
The role of social class is clearly shown in the text when Gar asks Kate Doogan to marry him. Kate is very reluctant to marry Gar as he only earns £3 15s a week and she knows that this wouldn’t be enough to support a family, especially as Gar wanted ‘seven boys and seven girls.’
She tells him to lie to her father so he will agree to allow them to marry and he is to tell him that he earns £20 a week and has £5000 in the bank. But when Gar arrives at Kate’s house, he doesn’t go through with the proposal because Dr Francis King is there and Senator Doogan tells him that they are hoping that Kate will marry him. They want Kate to marry him because their families are of the same social class and both fathers are friends. Gar cannot compete with this despite the fact that he and Kate are in love. This shows the role of social class and it is not something that I agree with, therefore, I would not like to live in the world of the text.
The role of men and women is another reason why life in Ballybeg is very different from today’s world. We have already seen that Kate had no choice in who she married and we also see how Gar’s mother ended up marrying S.B. a man twenty years older than her. The fact that S.B. had a shop meant that he was a good suitor and love didn’t seem to come into it. Women were expected to marry for security rather than love. Madge’s role in the house, cooking and cleaning also highlights how women were seen as domestic workers and incapable of working in any other area. The fact that Madge wants her niece called after her shows how women were expected to have babies and Madge feels left out as she has no children of her own. This is similar to Aunt Lizzy who begins to cry when she tells Gar about not having children. They felt that the only role they had in life was to have children. This is why I wouldn’t like to live in the world of the text.
Religion has far too much power and influence in this text, as shown by the need to say the angelus and the rosary every night in the O’Donnell household. We also see that Canon Mick O’Byrne is threatening to sack Master Boyle as the teacher in the school. Gar also tells us that the Canon is motivated by money mentioning his five weeks a year in Lanzarote, yet he won’t do his job, which is to bring Gar and S.B. together. When S.B. tries to talk to him about Gar leaving he just changes the subject, repeating the same line about Madge for the sixth time. The fact that the church had so much power but didn’t use it in the right way annoys me and is another reason why I wouldn’t like to live in this world.
The lack of emotion between Gar and S.B. is heartbreaking in the text and highlights how men were not supposed to show emotion. We hear how S.B. didn’t show any emotion when his wife died and now he is doing the same when his only son is leaving forever. We might be led to think that he just doesn’t care but I realised that wasn’t true when Madge is giving out to him and he just continues reading the paper. But when Madge leaves, we see that the paper was actually upside down, showing that he was deep in thought about Gar. Gar loses it towards the end of the play and shouts, “to hell with strong silent men,” showing how the world of the text encouraged men to keep their feelings to themselves and not show emotion. This type of behaviour is in contrast to today’s world where everyone is encouraged to talk about their feelings and another reason why I wouldn’t like to live in the world of the text.
My last reason for not wanting to live in this world is the poverty that exists in Ballybeg. We see this from the start when Gar is struggling to earn a decent living and this stops him getting married to the woman he loves. Gar is forced to emigrate because of the poverty in Ballybeg and this seems to be the only escape for young men like Gar.
We also see Ned suffering from poverty as he can’t afford to buy Gar a present because his father didn’t sell the cow at the mart last week. Like Gar, Ned relies on his father for money and is a victim of poverty in the text.
For all of these reasons, I would not like to live in the world of Ballybeg in Philadelphia Here I Come.