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What, if anything, is Doyle saying about the self and its connection to the past?

A Star Called Henry
(500-750 words)
For this essay, please offer a critical interpretation of the novel A Star Called Henry. Your paper should present your own unique insight. Rather than summarize the work, offer a critical examination of one or more of the novel’s themes. Your paper should obviously include all of the standard elements of a college essay (Introduction, thesis, topic sentences, transitions, development, conclusions, et al). Please do not use secondary sources when writing the essay. Pick ONE of the questions below.

1. Throughout the novel Doyle analyzes the issue of self-identity. That is, from the beginning of the novel until the end Henry is confronted by the confusion that surrounds his own identity. 

Who is Henry Smart? Is he an invention of a budding rebel army? 

Is his identity wrapped up in discovering the truth about his father?

 Is he a soldier, errand boy, man of legend, husband, etc.? 

In your essay, consider the complexity of self-identity and how Henry searches for meaning in his own life. 

What, if anything, is Doyle saying about the self and its connection to the past?

2. Doyle’s novels often focus on the middle-class struggles of everyday Irish people. This is Doyle’s first historical novel, yet he still takes a serious look at the issue of class within A Star Called Henry. In your essay, please examine the issues of class & nationalism. How do these concepts offer readers a complex portrait of character and plot? In short, how do poverty and the presence of colonial power (Britain) shape the direction of the novel?

3. While the novel has its fair share of violence & war, it also analyzes Henry and Miss. 

O’Shea’s quest for freedom and individual will. Within the novel, what institutions suppress free thought and personal autonomy? How do characters respond to such institutions?

 What, if anything, is being said about religion & gender politics in Ireland?

4. There are several symbols throughout the novel that offer significant food for thought—Henry’s Sr.’s coat, the wooden leg, stars and water. 

What do these symbols represent? 

How do they offer readers a more complete portrait of Henry and/or Dublin? Please examine at least ONE of these symbols.

5. The relationship between Henry and his father is important to the structure of the novel. For your essay, please offer a sound analysis of their relationship. 

Why does Doyle spend a significant amount of time focusing on their familial bond? 

What perhaps is Doyle saying about home and family?



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