Critical Review of Carn Essays

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Critical Review of Carn

The novel Carn, by Patrick McCabe, is a thought-provoking tale of people from a town in Ireland. The town, Carn, goes through economic failure, complete industrialization and commercial revival, back to total desolation. As the town changes, so do the main characters, Josie Keenan and Sadie Rooney. Although they do not know each other at the beginning of the novel, after the indulstrialization of the town, their lives eventually intersect. All they want from life is to lead normal lives -- outside of Carn. Even though Carn is now an industrial town, it holds bad memories and a sense of imprisonment for Josie and Sadie. Both their lives become tied to the town of Carn. Sadie plans to move to England, but
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She is disgusted with what she has become and tries to blot out her pitiful life with alcohol. She sees how awful her life is when "The protection of the drink and the drugs [begin] to wear off (145)." The only good influence in Josie's life is her lone friend Sadie. In the end, though, not even this makes a difference. An overdose of pills mixed with alcohol kills Josie before Sadie can reach her. McCabe is very pessimistic, and he gives this quality to his characters. Little by little, as the book progresses, Josie looses her mind. The author allows the reader to see Josie's thoughts, which aides in understanding a demented person. The effects of abuse, sexual exploitation, and alcohol are seen in Josie's character. The reader feels pity toward Josie and the outcome of her life. McCabe does an excellent job of characterizing Josie Keenan.

The character of Sadie Rooney is also a sad and hopeless one. McCabe relates the reader to Sadie through stories of Sadie's childhood dreams. When she was a child "...she loved Elvis Presley. She would have gone anywhere with him... (23)." Readers can identify with Sadie's love of movie starrs and desire for a better life. As her life progresses, however, her hopes are dashed when she becomes pregnant and must raise a family in the town she hates, Carn. When she learns of her pregnancy, she "[feels] nothing" and says, "That's it then (115)." She is bitter, yet resigned to the fact that
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