Episode III-The Memory of Fishing with S.B.

At the beginning of the act, Gar, S.B. and Madge are saying the rosary but it clear that Gar is not paying attention as Madge has to punch him to remind him that it is his decade. Private is in full flight, fantasising about life in America, while Public continues with the prayers.

While reminiscing during the rosary, Private talks about a memory he has of fishing with S.B. He says that he doesn’t remember every detail but that some parts are vivid. He says, “the boat was blue and the paint was peeling and there was an empty cigarette pack floating in the water…you had given me your hat and put your jacket round my shoulders because there had been a shower of rain.”

He goes on to explain about the fishing but what was most important was, “between us at that moment there was great happiness, this great joy-you must have felt it too.”

He tells us that S.B. was singing a song called, “All round my hat,” and he was as happy as he had ever seen him. The memory is interrupted when Gar realises that Madge and S.B. are finished their prayers and are at the table. Private urges Gar to ask S.B. if he remembers that day and Gar awkwardly asks about the old boat up on Lough na Cloc Cor. He’s just about to discuss the memory with S.B. when they are interrupted by the Canon, who has come for his nightly games of draughts.

Questions:

  1. What do we learn about the role of religion in this scene?
  2. What does Gar remember from his childhood? Explain with reference to the text.
  3. What does this memory show us about S.B. and Gar’s relationship? What do you think changed the relationship so much?
  4. Why does Gar not get to discuss the memory with S.B.?

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