Karen Babine, UNL:
Questions? Email me at karenbabine@huskers.unl.edu

Chapter 21: The Schoolmaster
  • Use of pen and paper to effect the unreliability in this chapter (newspaper accounts, drawings, letter to Mary)?
  • Punch magazine (202)—the same magazine as the epigraph
  • Math, the universal language (205).
  • Mulvey’s lice, as if he himself has become a sort of landscape?
  • What makes Mulvey feel shame? And what doesn’t, what should?

Chapter 22: The Law
  • The ship itself is considered English soil.
  • Introduction of Shaymus Meadowes

Chapter 23: The Married Man
  • What is truth and what is masquerade?
  • DM’s new role as a father and him turning into his own father?
  • The subverted map (227)
  • Where do you recognize Dixon’s voice here and how does that affect the degree to which you trust what you’re reading?
  • Role of place and geography.

Chapter 24: The Criminals
  • Still considering the importance of the letter form across the entirety of the narrative.
  • Still considering the intrusion and filtering of Dixon through Merridith’s journals.
  • The chapter ends with the unknown place.

Chapter 25: The Unpaid Account
  • The chapter starts with DM’s grand plans (reminiscent of his plans to build houses when he gets to New York). Voice of the confident Merridith.
  • And DM is now homeless, evicted like the rest of his tenants.
  • The squatting discussion with the agent—whose land is it?
  • The title as being the most important thing? (251)
  • The unnamed woman who gave birth in a field (251-52) walking to Dublin.

Chapter 26: The Shipping Reports
  • Tragedy at Grosse Ile, Quebec. (Google, Wikipedia.) It’s an important moment in North American history that you should be aware of. You might also be interested in reading Andrea Barrett’s title story “Ship Fever” to her collection Ship Fever. It’s an awesome book (and it’s not all about the Famine).
  • Considering placelessness—what happens if they can’t dock? Always in transit, never here nor there.
  • Interesting ending to the chapter, considering the ship as a physical, female body.

Chapter 27: (Untitled)
  • First, just fundamental speechlessness in the face of the form of this chapter. I mean, seriously? What is this shape??
  • Whose voice is this?
  • What do you make of all these names? (And yes, you should read every word that’s written there.) What do you make of the pacing? The repetition?
  • Background (from Wikipedia): Mary Immaculate Star of the Sea. Ancient name for Mary, Stella Maris one of the names for the North Star, a guiding star. This aspect of her identity is considered the patroness of seafarers.

Chapter 28: The Denunciation
  • Reliability of the document itself, given Dixon’s handiwork.
  • Footnote on 266: The Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Fenians. (Look it up on Google.)
  • Thread of displacement—who is displaced and how?
  • What pops clear here and what becomes muddier?
  • Mary’s miscarriage (271) was referred to earlier, on 251-2.

Chapter 29: The Lost Strangers
  • Discovery of the cause of the smell.
  • What about what has happened, all the things that the Captain has seen (not just this voyage but across the whole of his career) brings this change, this reaction now? What about what he has seen (in this chapter) is the back-breaking straw for him? Especially the last three paragraphs (and consider the craft of the final two lines, paragraphs of two sentences, then a paragraph of one sentence).

Chapter 30: The Prisoner
  • Different languages, written languages (the form of the text on 277).
  • Return of music and math.