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 when she becomes pregnant she must stay in Carn and raise a family. A lack of options forces Josie to remain in Carn, the only home she knows. Eventually, Josie's destructive lifestyle and the political conflicts between England and Ireland result in tragedy for both characters. McCabe does an excellent job at developing the characters of Josie, Sadie, and the town of Carn itself. He shows the futility of their hopes, which ultimately results in tragedy and despair. The reader can relate to the characters, and by the conclusion of the novel, the reader will feel as if s/he knows the characters personally.
Josie Keenan lives a life without hope. The author does a good job of providing insight into Josie's life by informing the reader of everything that effects Josie from the beginning of her life, right until the end. Living with an abusive father has made Josie believe that no one is good, and everyone is only looking for what they can gain from others. The only kind words she has ever received are from her mother. Even this source of happiness is taken from her though, because her mother dies when Josie is young. She moves from an orphanage right into the working world, and into a world
of men. Because she does not have a strong father figure in her life, she looks for love else where. Men love her body, and she loves the control this gives her. "Josie [sees] now that there [is] nothing she [can't] do with [men] (49)." She takes men's money and does with it as she pleases. She "[takes] the bus to a town across the border where she [sits] on her own in a cafe listening to a jukebox and eating ice-creams (51)." Soon, however, this path leads to destruction. Her whole life becomes devoted to drinking alcohol and pleasing men. 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...