Master Document: Characters
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Characters in Star of the SeaLiz Rahn, Jenny Morrow, Tom Knowlton, Becca EaslerConcordia College, Moorhead, MNEng. 346

Joseph O’Connor’s method of characterization is very unique. Rather than giving detailed character descriptions right when a character is introduced, their traits are given through stylistic flashbacks and sometimes through perceptions shared by other characters. The main storyline becomes more detailed and interconnected through the revealing of past events and relationships between the characters. One example is through the character of Mary Duane. Originally, she is simply introduced to the reader as the nanny for the Kingscourt family, but when the reader gets a glimpse of her past, they learn that she has very strong connections to both David Merridith and Pius Mulvey. These two relationships affect all of Mary’s attitudes and relationships on the ship. This seemingly backwards style of characterization advocates a change in the readers perception of each character as the story progresses. When more information is revealed, one can better understand the motivations of the characters rather than start with a foundational description of each that remains relatively stagnant throughout the novel.

Bob Borvan from UNL also pointed out another unique method of characterization. O’Connor/Dixon uses setting description and dialogue structure to color the scene lighter or darker for different characters. For Mulvey, the adjectives are usually harsh, dark words in effort to portray Mulvey’s supposed criminal nature. When the readers are first introduced to him in the epilogue, the setting is described with phrases like “knife-gray”, “eddies of blackness”, and “charcoal clouds. These phrases signal to the reader that this character is very foreboding and mysterious. Borvan argues that the dialogue is often a bit harsher but that that is also characterization in a different sense. Clearly each character is going to have their own voice, but even the way they speak mechanically and the word choices contributes to characterization of each person.

The multitude of perspectives in this novel is something to marvel at, but it also creates confusion as to where the credit is due for the act of characterization. Ultimately O’Connor is the mastermind, but how much of the stylistic aspects are O’Connor’s writing style and how much is Dixon’s writing style being portrayed through O’Connor’s writing? Star of the Sea is a framed narrative, meaning the story is a character telling a story, so it gives the impression of a two-step removal from the actual information being presented. This style raises questions of narrator reliability. Overall, the reader is led to believe that the entire novel is a journalistic non-fiction recollection of Grantly Dixon’s experiences in Ireland and the voyage to America. Therefore, one can assume that his personal perception of characters taints what could be the true story. Lindsey Hofer from UNL stated “The way we perceive the characters relates to how Dixon has seen them.” His recollection is supposed to be non-fiction, but there is still question of subjectivity and whether his personal perceptions muddle the truth. Even in the letters and diary entries Dixon includes in the novel, there is constantly the question of narrator reliability; whose opinion can we trust? Whose character is consistent in each account?

Gender Characterization
Not only does O’Connor develop characterization for specific individuals, but he also characterizes the separate genders. Throughout the novel we see many of the male characters experience an internal struggle: Pius has this tremendous burden of guilt and shame over his past and his intended future, David struggles with his relationships and the mutual giving and receiving of love, and Dixon wrestles with the worth of his writing. Unlike these male characters, however, the women do not show such internal struggles. Mary Duane moves from one ordeal to another without looking back. For example, once David tells her he can never see her again, she abandons her feelings for him without a second glimpse. According to Bob Borvan from UNL, “She doesn’t stop, she is very strong.” Laura Merridith, like Mary Duane, shows this same kind of strength, but she focuses on strength by appearances. To those around her, she acts calm and according to her social status even though her familial life contains hardships and discord. Laura and Mary use their strength to move on, and do not struggle with the progression of their actions. This characterization of gender relates to the post-modern idea of questioning of grand narratives. Dixon writes in the predominately male Victorian Era where women do not have many rights compared to the Postmodern Era in which O’Connor creates the book. However, even in this male society, the women show more strength of conviction and solidness than the men.

Name Characterization
O’Connor also uses names as another form of characterization. As we learn in chapter 27, Star of the Sea is another name for the Virgin Mary, so even the main setting contributes to the idea of names. Dixon’s name also holds meaning in his position within the book. According to Ellen Mueller, “Grantley is an Irish name and Dixon is an English name. This resonates well with Dixon trying to share both perspectives of the famine in his writings.” Because Dixon writes as a journalist, he shares both sides of the story, and his name reflects the two-sidedness of journalistic writing. The name of Kingscourt in David’s family also represents their position. “Kingscourt” reflects a powerful and domineering family; however, to the Irish still living under English rule, “King” might suggest an unwanted power that cruelly mistreats its subjects. David then, like the Kingscourt name might suggest, feels unwanted throughout most of his life, and Lord Kingscourt, David’s father, mistreats his tenants after his wife dies. This name indicates all the mistreatment within the family itself and committed by the family. Other characters, like Pius and Mary, have names that the characters themselves have to work towards in order to “become their name.” The name Pius connotes a devout person, but we know that of the Mulvey brothers, Nicholas became the most pious. Pius Mulvey, then, spends his life trying to work up to his name’s definition. Like Pius, Mary also has to work towards her namesake: Mary the Mother of God. Throughout her life and up until the end of the journey, Mary does not live up to the virgin’s name; she has multiple sexual relationships, and she writes a letter that ultimately condemns Pius. At the end of the journey, however, Mary shows an act of kindness similar to an act of the Virgin Mary. She extends her hand towards her wrongdoer, Pius, and claims him as her only kin, thus saving his life and enacting mercy. O’Connor uses names to enforce how the characters are treated and how characterization involves what a name means for an individual.

Character Summaries
Grantley Dixon:
Grantley Dixon is an American journalist from Louisiana. He writes for the New York Times, but didn’t always have this advantageous job. He was a “desperate writer” (Lindsay Hofer) early in the book, and his fiction writing gets rejected by a prestigious editor. He is the writer in the “trio of main characters” (Ella Worth). He has an affair with Laura Merridith and eventually marries her. In the epilogue, it is revealed that Dixon is the true murderer of David Merridith. He is motivated to kill David Merridith because he is jealous that David is married to Laura. His actions are motivated by his desire to be with Laura and wanted success and affirmation as a writer.

Captain Lockwood:
Captain Lockwood is the Quaker captain of the ship. He keeps the logs of the ship and keeps track of the deaths on the ship through the logs. As a result of keeping track of the deaths, he is shown as “emotionally distraught” (Bailey Corcoran). He is soft-spoken and is always shown in a very positive light. He is considered to have the purest opinion and is arguably the only reliable narrator in the novel.

David Merridith:
David Merridith is the son of the elder Lord Kingscourt and Lady Verity. He is referred to as “The Victim” throughout the novel, which indicates that he is the intended murder victim. Towards the beginning of the novel, he is in love with Mary Duane, the daughter of his nanny. After this relationship, he becomes engaged to Amelia Blake. However, he falls in love with Laura Markam while he is engaged. He eventually decides to marry Laura, which leads to him being disowned by his father. Because he is disowned by his father, he experiences a personal identity crisis, and as a result, feels the need to “put on a face” for others. However, he is later granted his father’s title and land. He marries Laura and they have two sons, Jonathan and Robert. Although he is a lord, he is an artist and wants this more than anything in the world. He is the owner and landlord of his family’s land and eventually evicts the tenants of this land, which leads to him being despised by many.

Pius Mulvey:
Pius Mulvey is the supposed murderer of David Merridith. He is a passenger in steerage and wanders the deck of the ship at night. He is referred to as “The Ghost” and “The Monster” throughout the novel. He learned to read at a young age and fell in love with songwriting. He was in love with Mary Duane and impregnated her. He couldn’t afford to support Mary and their unborn child, so he fled. He turns to stealing to get by and is eventually put in jail for seven years for theft. While in prison, he is raped by a guard. He kills the guard and escapes from jail. He also kills his friend William Swales and takes over his Swales’ identity. He is blackmailed by the Hibernians to attempt to kill David Merridith. It is eventually revealed that Mulvey is not the murderer of David Merridith.

Morality and Motivation
Throughout the reading of the novel, it has been a struggle deciding which characters are good and which are evil. This directly affects how readers are perceiving characters which means it affects how they are being characterized. The two biggest concepts that affect how readers decided whether a character is good or evil are morality and motivation. Starting with morality, it can be seen that of the characters in the book there are a few that seem to be inherently evil. Pius Mulvey seems to possess an evil quality when readers are looking through the lens of morality. Delving deeper, it can be argued that the motivations of Mulvey override what he displays morally and reveals that he may not be as evil as originally perceived. Ella Worth put it well in a response to evil in the novel by saying “Can you blame them? Are there certain circumstances in life that justify theft, abandonment, and even murderer? The concept of morality is something we struggle to assign to any of these characters.” This illustrates the base of the struggle very well and shows that in times of great desperation morals change for those affected. This leads well into the other big theme of motivation. For people who are in great distress there is a certain motivation to survive. The characters of Mulvey and Mary Duane both are motivated by their instincts for survival. These leads Mulvey to kill for himself, steal, and act manipulative in general. Motivations of other characters include: Merridith’s need distinguish himself from his father and to be loved, Dixon’s need to give an accurate account of the story and to confess to the murder, and the captain’s need to get everyone to New York safely. Overall it can be said that the motivations of the characters in combination with the dire situations that they are put in affect the morality of their characters. That information gives readers a good idea of how to perceive them.



Characters in Star of the SeaBailey Corcoran, Michael Hansen, Brandon Stewart, Bridget Vacha, Libby EvansUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnENGLISH 252-005
Every person has good and bad in them. Each character in O’Connor’s Star of the Sea is developed through the realities of their history, background, and environment. These influences have poisoned the innocence of their character and have made them out to be who they are today. O’Connor doesn’t give us God-given angelic characters in a time period where they lived in hell. The way in which these characters were developed isn’t limited to their environments, but is mostly created through other’s perceptions through their narratives, their actions, and the way in which each character’s voice is displayed on the page.

The character of Mulvey is set up immediately in the novel. As early as the preface, we are introduced to his nocturnal behavior and his self-enforced solitude. He accurately fit into the scenery as another aspect of the ship. The way this was displayed on the page is through another perspective. By doing this, the human essence of his character is not apparent. He walks the ship, is very mysterious, old, crippled, and has quirks and mannerisms that give immediate interest to the readers. He is described as a sickness, which parallels the disease on-board and contributes to the he is subtly looming over everyone, and constantly watching. The impact on us as readers, is that we want to know who this guy is. Why is he nocturnal? What is going on with this character that immediately catches our attention? Michael Hansen stated that “At the time, (Mulvey is) more of a characterization of the ship rather than a major character with his strange appearance and habits, especially not being affected by the desperation of the people nearby” which is a more than accurate way to describe his initial appearance into the story. Through this first instance, Mulvey is a curiosity. Like the other passengers on the ship, Mulvey is a poor starving Irishman. To set him apart from the undereducated, poverty and disease-ridden steerages, Mulvey is immensely witty and intelligent. This information is given to the readers in the interaction between himself and the captain. We learn that he can read, and carry on a well-mannered conversation. He becomes an entirely different character than we initially met. Unexpectedly, he is suddenly talkative, and a social-lite. The predispositions made from the introduction of the book and the further additions of unexpected character traits thrown at us, contributes to the constant identity struggle that Mulvey has. These initial conflicts foreshadow the continuous identity shifts that all characters go through throughout the novel.

Another way that Mulvey’s character is developed is through the word choice and phrasing during his narratives. His choice in words are dark, obscure, murderous and heavy. As readers we can tell what he cares about, because of the way in which he will use sensory and physical descriptions. Immediately we are shown things that annoy him, like the talking of women and children in the steerage that put a strain on him, he talks about this for a while, but then we are also shown in the same chapter as he explains his plans of killing Meredith as, “Let X equal Merridith and Y equal Mulvey” (30). This later statement is matter of fact and emotionally distant. In other situations where it actually concerns his life, he cares, and he cares a lot. He is an ego-centric character, selfish, and everything that he seems to care about is only if it will benefit him. When he had lice, he was desperately upset. It put his self-esteem and his reputation at risk. Whereas when he manipulated, stole, and killed people, they were purely instruments, something that just needed to be done. As the character development of Mulvey, this way of separating what is important to him, what makes him feel shame, and what he thinks worthy of his time, allows us as readers to pick his sociopathic tendencies.

Dixon is the constant underlying voice of the novel. The way in which the story is developed, “a story within a story within a story,” obviously causes major reliability issues. Dixon is the one we point fingers towards. Dixon is the filter in which we are fed the events that happen throughout the book. He is a Journalist. He gives us the story he thinks we want. We receive these events through not how they actually happened, but how he thinks it happened. Which is why we get confused whether or not Mulvey is the killer. This is one of the biggest impacts that Dixon’s character has on the page, because he is the character who fabricates, muddles, and instigates action on the page, majorly impacting the other character developments, because it is all through his retelling, and through his mask of bias.

Dixon is a character with his own sense of values and mannerisms, but his purpose seems to be for other characters to vent at, or for reacting to him. When he talks to Mulvey, he knows he is the Monster of Newgate, so he instigates a squabble to get the story out of him, so that he can further his writing career, and to exploit the truth. We see that Merridth is barely keeping it together because of Dixon’s running into him being drunk all of time. He seems to be the bridge to a deeper sense of the other characters. To make his character more believable we are given the reality of his failures as a writer, and his struggles to maintain his dreams as one. On the page, we are given a multitude of clues as to what Dixon cares about, and just to what extent he will go to in order to get those things. This was mostly done through the recollection of memories in his little bits and pieces of narratives in the book, but we also got glimpses of this through conversation in other narratives. All of Dixon’s entries in the book appear to be always on his side. When him and Merridith fight, all of the time, it’s Merridith who is the irrational drunk, and Dixon is the calm, sophisticated American journalist who tells-them-how-he-sees-it. This is probably as a result of the reliability issues mentioned previously, but it aids in the development of his character because we know that as he’s “writing” this story, he cares about his values, success in his career, and his appearances.

The story basically revolves around Merridith and Mulvey. As readers we get the most information of him on the page and there are a lot of details to look at. One prominent character trait of Meredith is that he is a complete fake. He puts on a face for almost each and every other person in this novel. It would be safe to assume that the multiple faces he chooses to use correlate to the extreme identity struggle that have come as a result of his background. He is slowly devaluing himself throughout the novel; especially after he finds out he has syphilis. After finding this out, we are introduced to the birthday party scene. It creates a unique sense of movement in Merridith’s character development because he has adopted traits of his own father and other conflicting attitudes. His mask is two-parted, because his outward demeanor is everything is going great in his life but on the inside, his character he is struggling because of his many failures as a son, father, husband, and landlord. On one hand, he is very verbally and visually dissatisfied with his family, and his life, which in turn exploits the deep internal struggles within himself and we witness his fallout from his illness, and him giving up on himself.

We learn that his problems are inescapable. On the page, everything he does is a struggle. He is at odds with life in general, from the moment he is pulled screaming from the womb. And then he finally gives up. We see that his marriage is crumbling as he flaunts himself at an uncountable number of whore-houses, and we see that he is a failure in his father’s business because he can’t seem to keep up with his debts. He then decides to ignore everything go to America and start fresh. Leave all of his problems in the past, Haukuna Matata. However, his past problems are of course ever so conveniently on the boat, so naturally the problems follow him. A large part of his problems were instigated through his parent’s past, in which reflect upon his own self-being. This influence from the parental characters really put a strain on Merridith’s character as a whole, because he was always dealing with two sides of himself. He wants to do good like his mother, but has the bashful side of his father under his wing as well. His mother was the Irish saint that wants to help everyone and do acts of good, and his father was the untouchable Englishman who is above the petty squabbles of the Irish people who lives as his tenants. He has his legs in two very separate worlds, which are pulling him in two different directions which results in him failing at everything that he attempts. So he has to pay the consequences. The grandeur of his mother does not outweigh the tyranny of his father. His dualism as an unaffected Englishman and bleeding heart Irishman is a large source of his internal struggles and reflects upon the physical characteristics of his character that we as readers see through the actions he makes in his life.

These struggles are represented on the page through his action and inaction throughout his various problems. It’s all a matter of what he does and doesn’t do. When he was flaunting himself at the whore-houses, it wasn’t his fault, of course. He lets everything happen to him, but we never see him trying to stop any of it, either. We imagine Merridith in our time as being a man laying back in a lawn chair, enjoying the scenery, and then all of a sudden playboy bunnies just so happen to be passing by and stop for a good ole’ chat, and by chat we mean to screw around, and by screwing around, we mean the kind that gives you syphilis. He doesn’t go out and do things for himself, which is probably because he was spoiledly raised in a wealthy home, but it does do a lot of damage on his personality. He is vicious, spiteful, and demanding towards his family, the only people who are able to stand by him and is supposed to be there for each other no matter what. He emotionally deserts his family, resulting in his family physically deserting him with hardly a tear shed. As a character, doing this to his own blood gives us as readers an insight to what is really going on in his family and more particularly in his head, especially behind the scenes.

Throughout the book majority of the character traits given were through other character’s narratives. We feel as though this had a huge impact on what kind of person each character was because hearing about someone verses knowing someone is a significantly large contrast. We hear about people every day. We make judgments on what we hear and that criticism usually sticks with us, until we actually get to know the person ourselves. Having this second-handed, very biased information not only contributes to the reality issues posed, but it gives us a look into how these characters are perceived. This is a huge factor on getting to know a character. With Mulvey’s character, he has played with us since page one, and continues to play with our minds throughout the entire story. But having been read inside his mind, and read what people think of him, we get to the point where the way in which he justifies his actions are not what you would call just. He’s got issues, and through this balance of outside-inside perspectives this realization can be made. The same goes with the character of Mary Duane, Merridith, and Dixon. Mary Duane is often seen as a godly saint on the outside, and her narration parallels those ideas. The character of Merridith is seen as a messed up wreck, and even within his own perspectives he constantly contradicts himself and his character is all over the place. Dixon also is seen as this scrawny outside American journalist who does whatever he can to be the top dog, so naturally, his fabrications try and protect his reputation. We feel as though having all of these important character traits given throughout the different type of narratives is one of the largest aspects of the development to which we got to know the characters in O’Connor’s Star of the Sea.

Through Mulvey, Dixon, and Merridith, three of the most primary characters we see characterized on the page, the reader sees how O'Connor shapes them into characters we can't love and can't hate. Gaining the knowledge of who these characters are in the past and in the currency of the novel, the reader is left to a hard decision of who the "clear" bad and good guy is; which in fact, no one is just strictly good or bad. We learn about these characters from O'Connor's craft of having the other characters influence our bias. It's “Lit-ception” as the true characterization of these characters are filtered through many lenses. Since the readers learn about these characters through multiple frames of reference, we are left with reliability issues and a skewed characterization. O'Connor makes sure that the reader cannot define a clear good and bad guy by doing this craft of characterization. He poisons all the innocence that is on the pages of their pasts, making them just as human as everyone else.



Character Group
Karen Babine
ENG 252-005
April 21, 2012

Characters


Every person has good and bad in them. Each character in O’Connor’s Star of the Sea is developed through the realities of their history, background, and environment. These influences have poisoned the innocence of their character and have made them out to be who they are today. O’Connor doesn’t give us God-given angelic characters in a time period where they lived in hell. The way in which these characters were developed isn’t limited to their environments, but is mostly created through other’s perceptions through their narratives, their actions, and the way in which each character’s voice is displayed on the page.
The character of Mulvey is set up immediately in the novel. As early as the preface, we are introduced to his nocturnal behavior and his self-enforced solitude. He accurately fit into the scenery as another aspect of the ship. The way this was displayed on the page is through another perspective. By doing this, the human essence of his character is not apparent. He walks the ship, is very mysterious, old, crippled, and has quirks and mannerisms that give immediate interest to the readers. He is described as a sickness, which parallels the disease on-board and contributes to the he is subtly looming over everyone, and constantly watching. The impact on us as readers, is that we want to know who this guy is. Why is he nocturnal? What is going on with this character that immediately catches our attention? Michael Hansen stated that “At the time, (Mulvey is) more of a characterization of the ship rather than a major character with his strange appearance and habits, especially not being affected by the desperation of the people nearby” which is a more than accurate way to describe his initial appearance into the story. Through this first instance, Mulvey is a curiosity. Like the other passengers on the ship, Mulvey is a poor starving Irishman. To set him apart from the undereducated, poverty and disease-ridden steerages, Mulvey is immensely witty and intelligent. This information is given to the readers in the interaction between himself and the captain. We learn that he can read, and carry on a well-mannered conversation. He becomes an entirely different character than we initially met. Unexpectedly, he is suddenly talkative, and a social-lite. The predispositions made from the introduction of the book and the further additions of unexpected character traits thrown at us, contributes to the constant identity struggle that Mulvey has. These initial conflicts foreshadow the continuous identity shifts that all characters go through throughout the novel.
Another way that Mulvey’s character is developed is through the word choice and phrasing during his narratives. His choice in words are dark, obscure, murderous and heavy. As readers we can tell what he cares about, because of the way in which he will use sensory and physical descriptions. Immediately we are shown things that annoy him, like the talking of women and children in the steerage that put a strain on him, he talks about this for a while, but then we are also shown in the same chapter as he explains his plans of killing Meredith as, “Let X equal Merridith and Y equal Mulvey” (30). This later statement is matter of fact and emotionally distant. In other situations where it actually concerns his life, he cares, and he cares a lot. He is an ego-centric character, selfish, and everything that he seems to care about is only if it will benefit him. When he had lice, he was desperately upset. It put his self-esteem and his reputation at risk. Whereas when he manipulated, stole, and killed people, they were purely instruments, something that just needed to be done. As the character development of Mulvey, this way of separating what is important to him, what makes him feel shame, and what he thinks worthy of his time, allows us as readers to pick his sociopathic tendencies.
Dixon is the constant underlying voice of the novel. The way in which the story is developed, “a story within a story within a story,” obviously causes major reliability issues. Dixon is the one we point fingers towards. Dixon is the filter in which we are fed the events that happen throughout the book. He is a Journalist. He gives us the story he thinks we want. We receive these events through not how they actually happened, but how he thinks it happened. Which is why we get confused whether or not Mulvey is the killer. This is one of the biggest impacts that Dixon’s character has on the page, because he is the character who fabricates, muddles, and instigates action on the page, majorly impacting the other character developments, because it is all through his retelling, and through his mask of bias.
Dixon is a character with his own sense of values and mannerisms, but his purpose seems to be for other characters to vent at, or for reacting to him. When he talks to Mulvey, he knows he is the Monster of Newgate, so he instigates a squabble to get the story out of him, so that he can further his writing career, and to exploit the truth. We see that Merridth is barely keeping it together because of Dixon’s running into him being drunk all of time. He seems to be the bridge to a deeper sense of the other characters. To make his character more believable we are given the reality of his failures as a writer, and his struggles to maintain his dreams as one. On the page, we are given a multitude of clues as to what Dixon cares about, and just to what extent he will go to in order to get those things. This was mostly done through the recollection of memories in his little bits and pieces of narratives in the book, but we also got glimpses of this through conversation in other narratives. All of Dixon’s entries in the book appear to be always on his side. When him and Merridith fight, all of the time, it’s Merridith who is the irrational drunk, and Dixon is the calm, sophisticated American journalist who tells-them-how-he-sees-it. This is probably as a result of the reliability issues mentioned previously, but it aids in the development of his character because we know that as he’s “writing” this story, he cares about his values, success in his career, and his appearances.
The story basically revolves around Merridith and Mulvey. As readers we get the most information of him on the page and there are a lot of details to look at. One prominent character trait of Meredith is that he is a complete fake. He puts on a face for almost each and every other person in this novel. It would be safe to assume that the multiple faces he chooses to use correlate to the extreme identity struggle that have come as a result of his background. He is slowly devaluing himself throughout the novel; especially after he finds out he has syphilis. After finding this out, we are introduced to the birthday party scene. It creates a unique sense of movement in Merridith’s character development because he has adopted traits of his own father and other conflicting attitudes. His mask is two-parted, because his outward demeanor is everything is going great in his life but on the inside, his character he is struggling because of his many failures as a son, father, husband, and landlord. On one hand, he is very verbally and visually dissatisfied with his family, and his life, which in turn exploits the deep internal struggles within himself and we witness his fallout from his illness, and him giving up on himself.
We learn that his problems are inescapable. On the page, everything he does is a struggle. He is at odds with life in general, from the moment he is pulled screaming from the womb. And then he finally gives up. We see that his marriage is crumbling as he flaunts himself at an uncountable number of whore-houses, and we see that he is a failure in his father’s business because he can’t seem to keep up with his debts. He then decides to ignore everything go to America and start fresh. Leave all of his problems in the past, Haukuna Matata. However, his past problems are of course ever so conveniently on the boat, so naturally the problems follow him. A large part of his problems were instigated through his parent’s past, in which reflect upon his own self-being. This influence from the parental characters really put a strain on Merridith’s character as a whole, because he was always dealing with two sides of himself. He wants to do good like his mother, but has the bashful side of his father under his wing as well. His mother was the Irish saint that wants to help everyone and do acts of good, and his father was the untouchable Englishman who is above the petty squabbles of the Irish people who lives as his tenants. He has his legs in two very separate worlds, which are pulling him in two different directions which results in him failing at everything that he attempts. So he has to pay the consequences. The grandeur of his mother does not outweigh the tyranny of his father. His dualism as an unaffected Englishman and bleeding heart Irishman is a large source of his internal struggles and reflects upon the physical characteristics of his character that we as readers see through the actions he makes in his life.
These struggles are represented on the page through his action and inaction throughout his various problems. It’s all a matter of what he does and doesn’t do. When he was flaunting himself at the whore-houses, it wasn’t his fault, of course. He lets everything happen to him, but we never see him trying to stop any of it, either. We imagine Merridith in our time as being a man laying back in a lawn chair, enjoying the scenery, and then all of a sudden playboy bunnies just so happen to be passing by and stop for a good ole’ chat, and by chat we mean to screw around, and by screwing around, we mean the kind that gives you syphilis. He doesn’t go out and do things for himself, which is probably because he was spoiledly raised in a wealthy home, but it does do a lot of damage on his personality. He is vicious, spiteful, and demanding towards his family, the only people who are able to stand by him and is supposed to be there for each other no matter what. He emotionally deserts his family, resulting in his family physically deserting him with hardly a tear shed. As a character, doing this to his own blood gives us as readers an insight to what is really going on in his family and more particularly in his head, especially behind the scenes
Throughout the book majority of the character traits given were through other character’s narratives. We feel as though this had a huge impact on what kind of person each character was because hearing about someone verses knowing someone is a significantly large contrast. We hear about people every day. We make judgments on what we hear and that criticism usually sticks with us, until we actually get to know the person ourselves. Having this second-handed, very biased information not only contributes to the reality issues posed, but it gives us a look into how these characters are perceived. This is a huge factor on getting to know a character. With Mulvey’s character, he has played with us since page one, and continues to play with our minds throughout the entire story. But having been read inside his mind, and read what people think of him, we get to the point where the way in which he justifies his actions are not what you would call just. He’s got issues, and through this balance of outside-inside perspectives this realization can be made. The same goes with the character of Mary Duane, Merridith, and Dixon. Mary Duane is often seen as a godly saint on the outside, and her narration parallels those ideas. The character of Merridith is seen as a messed up wreck, and even within his own perspectives he constantly contradicts himself and his character is all over the place. Dixon also is seen as this scrawny outside American journalist who does whatever he can to be the top dog, so naturally, his fabrications try and protect his reputation. We feel as though having all of these important character traits given throughout the different type of narratives is one of the largest aspects of the development to which we got to know the characters in O’Connor’s Star of the Sea.
Through Mulvey, Dixon, and Merridith, three of the most primary characters we see characterized on the page, the reader sees how O'Connor shapes them into characters we can't love and can't hate. Gaining the knowledge of who these characters are in the past and in the currency of the novel, the reader is left to a hard decision of who the "clear" bad and good guy is; which in fact, no one is just strictly good or bad. We learn about these characters from O'Connor's craft of having the other characters influence our bias. It's “Lit-ception” as the true characterization of these characters are filtered through many lenses. Since the readers learn about these characters through multiple frames of reference, we are left with reliability issues and a skewed characterization. O'Connor makes sure that the reader cannot define a clear good and bad guy by doing this craft of characterization. He poisons all the innocence that is on the pages of their pasts, making them just as human as everyone else.