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How Does Friel Represent Childhood In The Play The Potato Gatherers?

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Laura Charlton How Does Friel Represent Childhood In The Play The Potato Gatherers? This is a short play written by a man named Brian Friel. The theme is that of two young boys who have been sent out by their mother to work on a potato harvest. This means skipping off school in order to carry out this work. Obviously the family is very poor or the mother is unable to work for herself. It is set in Ireland, the home country of Brian Friel (the author), around the time of the start of the "troubles". The boys are very young to be working to support their families needs, Joe was thirteen and Philly was twelve. This was not Joe's first time of working for the mentioned Mr.Kelly so he was not very excited at the prospect of working so early in the morning. However this was Philly's first time at real "mans" work and due to his young age he was very excitable and enthusiastic. ...read more.


They play is set in a time where western films are very popular and just happen to one of Philly's favorite things ever. During the run of the play he goes through several fantasies of what he is going to buy and gun fighting imaginary foes. In total he has four main items he wishes to purchase. His dreams involve a gun, a gaff, a scout knife and a bicycle. As they are on there way to work Philly is imaging he already owns the gun and pretends to shoot at a cat. The constant repetition emphasizes both Philly's love for westerns and his childlike imagination. The viewpoint of the story, in my opinion, is largely based from Joe's point of view. However some of the speech structure seems to be from the younger child's aspect. It is all written as if you are watching over Philly yourself. It describes his actions in a lot of detail but then roughly describes how Joe reacts. ...read more.


This displays the closeness some brothers have. This closeness probably developed because everything one of the boys has done (Joe) the other is now getting the chance to go out and repeat (Philly). Philly looks up to his brother. The conversation at this point is very different compared to the rest of the story. It is subtler, Philly is worn out and this time it is Joe daydreaming about what he is going to buy with his money. And unlike Joe, willing to play along, Philly takes the mature role and says: " Ma won't give us back enough to buy anything much..." The excitement is no longer present in his voice and instead he is sulking and sullen. After just one-day work Philly's outlook has been changed and he has grown up. Childhood didn't last very long for these two boys. Joe's final thought is that he wants to buy a pair of red silk socks. This proves that neither of the boys will ever really grow up, and still like to dream of possibilities not available to them at that moment. ...read more.

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