“No Angel” by Bernie McGill
The short story “No angel” written by Bernie McGill is a about the main protagonist, Annie. Through her we experience the story from her point of view. Through her we experience her seeing her dead family members, her father mostly.
The story takes place Northern Ireland, Where the conflict between the Catholics and protestants have turned into a war, which has caused Annie some consequences on her family. It’s cost her, her Brother and later on her mother as well.
The story starts out in media res, and is told in a first-person narrative, where we through flashbacks, told by Annie, experience her encounters with her dead father just two weeks after the funeral. The events we encounter are only described by Annie, what she sees, what she thinks, and what she hears, which is why events described are unreliable. The events she recalls, rarely is about her, other than she once dated Thomas, a protestant. Annie, and her family is catholic, which is why her father did not approve the relationship due to his religious beliefs. Her brother however was quite the opposite of the father, besides having the same posture as him. “he walked like Daddy: shoulders forward, great loping strides. Three years younger than me, and every step of his was one and a half of mine. I could never keep up with him. He was seventeen and built like a stick and mad about his guitar.” He was also described: “He had a great sense of himself as unquashable, shot his mouth off when the rest of us knew how to stay dumb; had never learnt caution the way most people had in our uneasy mixed community” Which might also be the reasons that got killed in the first place.
The composition is constructed in a postmodern style, as the reliance to the character to is doubtful or rather more unreliable due to that the narrator accounts to these absurd and surreal events, seeing and talking to dead people, especially her father. As I’ve mentioned before the story is told with flashbacks and starts in a media res. We aren’t told of a specific time nor location, other than we are in the month of December in one of the flashbacks, as the only indication of time. “Christmas week, “I was invited out to dinner with Thomas’s parents” and that we are in contemporary Northern Ireland, Belfast. The flashbacks are not told in a chronological order, which doesn’t help either. There are a lot of flashbacks. Some of the flashbacks are: Annie encounters her father in the bathroom two weeks after the funeral of her father’s death, another is where she sees him in a train towards Belfast, and two months before her brother Robbie dies, and so forth. The point the of the flashbacks aren’t the content of the them but rather more about the amount of flashbacks there are. The effect of the jumpy composition is to make the story: more fast paced, intensifying the excitement and the mystery of why she keeps seeing her dead father.
Religion isn’t the only thing that makes an appearance in the story, but the supernatural. Annie has a great amount to deal with; the religious war between the Catholics and Protestants, and the haunting of her father. The use of these supernatural events are symbolic and postmodernist. Symbolic because her dead father is trying to help her accept her death. The encounters with her dad are supposed to help her accept that he’s gone, as well as her brother and mother. He’s there to help her accept that there are never coming back, and that there nothing to do about it. I would also say that is symbolic because of how there are suggestions that death isn’t the end, that there is an afterlife opposed to that religious beliefs of places considering heaven and hell. Death is an obvious theme. Which you can see from the first line of the story where the narrator announces seeing her dead father in the bathroom. Annie, the only family who is still alive. Her brother was killed as a 17-year-old, a casualty of the religious conflict in Northern Ireland. Six months after her mother dies, due to depression caused by her son’s dead. The fact some of her encounters with her dead father, is of him grieving and dealing with death of his son and wife is symbolic. It’s suggesting that both living and dead have a hard time of letting go of each other; that accepting death of loved ones is gradual process.
The supernatural is postmodernist, because the way the author reacts towards her dead father appearing often around here, isn’t perceived as out of the ordinary, but rather perceived as a natural event that happens often. That is a common thing that the dad shows up out of nowhere. He’s not described as a ghost: white and transparent, but his living self. “His skin was more yellow maybe; more so at the nicotine-stained finger tips. “Are they treating you well?” I asked him. “So, so. The food’s not great. Nothing seems to have much of a taste.” Even the conversations between them, when her father was alive, was natural and similar. “He’ll never set foot on my farm,’ he said. ‘He’s a Maths teacher, Daddy. He doesn’t want your farm.’ ‘He says that now,’ he grunted.”. This portrait of her father, preserving all of his traits and opinion makes her perception of him; humane, which is way for her to make the death of him more acceptable.
Compared to stories from the Victorian era, where the supernatural is more horror like and out of the ordinary.