Episode I-Dinner with S.B. & Meeting Master Boyle

Madge interrupts Gar as she enters the room abruptly to tell him that dinner is ready. Madge tells Gar that she has a new grand-niece and that they are going to call it Madge. Gar Private tells us how he really feels about Madge . “Madge, I think I love you more than any of them.”

S.B. comes in from the shop for dinner. While he is getting prepared for dinner, Private gives a running commentary on what S.B. is doing an is about to do, highlighting how predictable their evening routine is. Private commentates on S.B. as if he were a model on the catwalk. He predicts everything S.B. does and says as they being dinner. Gar Private tells his father to say something unpredictable and S.B. asks if he set the rat-trap and Gar responds that he did.

As they sit in silence, Private gives a long monologue about their relationship and why he is going to America. He says that his father treats him like a child and that he gets paid less than Madge but that the main reason that he is going is because the embarrass each other. “If one of us were to say, ‘you’re looking tired’ or ‘that’s a bad cough you have, the other would fall over backways with embarrassment.” He continues saying that he wants his father to say one unpredictable thing before he goes to America. Gar wants him to say something to make him think about staying.

Gar, feeling the tension between himself and his father roars for Madge to try to break the tension. Madge enters and says ironically, “the chatting in this place would deafen a body.”

We see how bad the relationship between the two men is when S.B. goes to pay Gar. Gar is aggressive towards his father and his father is quite short with him even though this is his last night at home before he leaves forever.

Gar is angry with the situation and masks the anger with humour or pretending to be funny. He again pretends he is talking to his father and in a fake confession, he tells his father that he thinks that he’s a sex maniac. Despite the fact that Gar is trying to be funny, there is a sadness in his speech as he admits that the reason that he and the rest of the boys are sex maniacs is the fact that they are all virgins.

Gar is interrupted by the arrival of Master Boyle, who is a white haired man in his sixties who is moving constantly, possibly due to the fact that he is an alcoholic. As soon as Master Boyle enters the house, S.B. makes an excuse to leave, which causes Gar to call his father an ‘ignorant bastard.’ Private also tells us about the sorry state of Boyle, who he says is on his way to the pub.

Master Boyle tells Gar about his latest run-in with the Canon and that he is thinking of going to America himself, to be head of education in a university in Boston. Private’s reaction tells us that the poor man is deluded and simply making up stories. Without meaning to, he insults Gar when he tells him, “You’re young, strong and of average intelligence.”

We learn that Master Boyle was once in love with Gar’s mother and Gar is eager to ask him about his mum. He doesn’t get to ask him but Boyle asks for a lend of money before he goes, which shows how desperate he is for money for drink.

Gar has a number of thoughts as he tries to deal with everything going on in his head and the episode ends with public and private saying, “Philadelphia Here I Come,” which brings the curtain down on episode I.

Questions on Dinner with S.B. and Meeting Master Boyle

  1. What things does Gar predict S.B. will do before dinner?
  2. When Gar predicts everything that S.B. will say, what does it show about their relationship?
  3. Why does Gar think that himself and S.B. don’t get on?
  4. What personal information does Gar give in his ‘pretend confession’ to S.B.?
  5. Why is Gar eager to talk to Master Boyle?
  6. What is your impression of Master Boyle? Explain your answer with reference to the text.
  7. Do you think Gar really wants to go to Philadelphia? Explain your answer.

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