Home Is Where the Hurt Is: Trauma, Alienation, and Identity in Kate O’Riordan’s The Boy in the Moon

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Jennifer A. Slivka


This article examines how O’Riordan’s The Boy in the Moon revises the union-as-marriage plot to consider the significance of cross-cultural contact in contemporary Ireland and England. While most of the characters depicted in the novel turn away from such an allegorical reading by moving beyond it politically, the novel reveals that the psychic drama endures. The persisting differences between England and Ireland implicitly inform other differences, such as those existing between genders, classes, and geographies. These forms of difference destabilize established definitions of home and unsettle the individual’s role within it. The Boy in the Moon presents the reader with a variation of Freud’s ‘neurotic family romance’, revealing how the emotional and psychological scarring resulting from child abuse, and the distorted histories that cover over those scars, continue to damage subsequent generations.

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Author Biography

Jennifer A. Slivka, Women's Resource Center at Virginia Wesleyan University

Jennifer A. Slivka is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of the Women's Resource Center at Virginia Wesleyan University. She has published articles on Edna O’Brien for Études Irlandaises and New Hibernia Review, and on Philip Roth for Philip Roth Studies. She has also published numerous reviews for journals such as English Literature in Transition, James Joyce Literary Supplement and New Hibernia Review.