Middle of Nowhere Productions

Middle of Nowhere Productions

"Hunger Strike" (Colum McCann) Notes

Insist on the double value of the text :

A precise political & historical setting (why not propose a name for the uncle?) but embedded in a personal experience, a political crisis filtered through an individual crisis, and/or vice-versa.

* The 1981 hunger strike

* A fatherless teenager/quest for identity

* Ireland (mythical) as the coalescence of the two themes.

  1. Political crisis.

(Precise and explicit :)

References (even in the idealised image of the movie poster, to the British military presence in Ulster)

References to the H-Blocks (Her Majesty's Prison Maze (known colloquially as The H Blocks, Long Kesh, or The Maze) (photos smuggled)

Reference to the “dirty protest”

Reference to the replacement of each man dead

Reference to press coverage (cf “intent to kill”)

  1. Personal crisis

A collection of symptoms that are frequent among teenagers, but aggravated by the boy’s situation. (bit his lip/flung stones at the sheep/alternating moods: slowness in his walk/ran up the slope/ kicked at the heather with violence/spat at the sky/ From stupor to anger, then acceptance via revolt/Communication with mother difficult (mother does not make it any better)/ Tendency to brood (wondered 13 29 42 + paronomasia wandered 11/thought to himself 29 60 /felt as if 20/thought 27/)

Cut off from the world (absence of other characters throughout the passage, even in town/ a small speck of white in the distance)

Quest for answers, esp. about death (incomprehension: he wondered what it meant/fantasy: the film poster)

Identity crisis revealed stylistically by absence of name and reiterated the boy (10)

Initiation process (making his own path 48), from stupor to acceptance (highlighted by the the verb form variation line 60.)

Absence of a father, aggravated by the imminent death of the uncle/foster father apparent.

  1. Ireland

Political :

Setting: County Galway, Atlantic Ocean, gaeltacht: Anti-GB

The image of the barbed wire as paradoxically linking element. Modern debasement of the stone walls that criss-cross the Irish landscape (Our unfenced country Is bog that keeps crusting Between the sights of the sun (Heaney) Also reminiscent of Derry’s townscape, army posts, checkpoints etc./Reference in the twanging of the wire to anti-British communication in Catholic ghettoes: banging on metallic objects.

Elements of the landscape as corollaries of imprisonment (fence/railing)

The colour red (GB) as opposed to the colour green/

Dear Erin, how sweetly thy green bosom rises!
An emerald set in the ring of the sea.
     Each blade of thy meadows my faithful heart prizes,

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