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Sebastian Barry a Irish writer in his book, ‘On Canaan’s Side’ go back to the frictional case of the Dunne family, who are Irish loyalists who have been caught on a losing part in the troubles that occurred between 1916 to 1922. Willie Dunne, who is a young volunteer form Irish during the first world war in the British Army was used as a protagonist of his previous novel known as, ‘ A Long Long Way’ published in 2005, this book was among the shortlisted books in the Booker Prizer. Dunne’s father, a chief superintendent working with the Dublin Metropolitan Police during the British regime. He is used as a tragic hero in the Barry’s play commonly known as, ‘ The Steward of Christendom’ published in 1995.
Barry in this book is telling the tale/story of Dunne’s sister, Bere Lilly. Lilly is in her early 80s and describes her life that she spent in America that is, ‘ On Canaan’s Side. Lilly was of age while in Ireland when the trouble of blood sacrifice during the Easter Rising of 1916 and this resulted in civil war popularly known as the black farce. She was married to Tag Bere a friend of her brother and is a veteran of who had served in the ‘ Tans and Black’, and they were used as infamous irregulars by the British Army during their waning rule days. Neighbors informed Lilly father who was an ex-policeman that a republican gunmen planned to kill Lilly together with her husband as a result of their disloyalty, they are forced to move in United State from Ireland to live in exile.
Barry is again fulfilling in complex historical way using his heavy hand. Although is quite hearted than even meet with the approval of Lilly. His acknowledged method is to make use of dreadful strangeness than using a straightforward working-out; tumult blind side his colleges rather than staring them full in their faces.
Tanks reports Mike Scopello tersely, Lilly’s friend after being asked about the Purple Heart he had received in the II world war. Elsewhere the American brimming tensions related to racial and the participation related to the Vietnam war are as well obliquely sketched, the magnitude and force present in the alienation and damage that is left in their wake. Most of the times, the effects are mysterious and bizarre especially in sinuous strand related to the novel that charts the marriage between Lilly and Joe Kinderman, the policemen. His abandonment towards her is eventually brought out as a result of a neurosis that is more powerful for its oddness and unpredictability.
By anyone reckoning, Lilly’s life is quite traumatic. It encompasses several separations and bereavements, numerous upheavals, material hardship as well as unrelieved exile originating from divided and oppressed homeland.
The Irish history together with hatred do not easily let go their victims. Even in their life in America the wound that they got in Ireland are not healed such as, the blames on past mistakes are not easily forgotten. Poison and narrow passions are triggered back by the type of trouble that come their way as they moved from New York to Chicago and finally to Cleveland. They find that even in America there tribal hatred, secrets and passions. The author is aware that Irish are not the only ethnic group wearing history around their neck as a rope..
Lilly has a son who is of age to take part in the war that was in Vietnam. The same history get around Lilly’s grandson life, brought back the first Iraq war that took place in the early 90s. Through the aspect of making Lilly’s people victim of every war that take place in the 20th century. The intention of the Author is to let his reader’s understand the negative impact of war. The point that he want to bring home is that war is somehow a sickness and it is upon those in war to be patient, without usage of much force.
The author of this novel is a virtuoso stylist and a supple narrator. For example, Lilly Bere who is brought out as an exile, wife, cook, mother, survivor and a housemaid, she tell her story in a radiant voice of an Irish. The author in this book reflects his passion for justice by telling the story of Dunnes family.
This book can be concluded as talking about the impact of hatred, war and finally the problems that one undergoes in exile. The author bring out the picture of Dunnes family which is forced to move to America to seek safety. Hatred result to war between countries and this result into separations between loved ones. Barry in this novel is trying to advocate for peaceful coexistence as this factor is vital for human development