Families portraid in Roddy Doyles books. A comparrison of the snapper, "The Commitments", "The Snapper and The Van"

Essay by Ed LewisCollege, UndergraduateA-, January 1997

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Why do we hear so much about family these days? Perhaps it is because

relationships between family members are assumed to be the prototype for all other

social relations. In the novels, The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van, Roddy

Doyle shows his support of the family as an institution. Each character demonstrates

strength and direction within the family unit. However, when the stability of the family

is threatened, each character breaks down along with the family itself.

When we think of family life we associate happiness, a life of sharing memories

and developing unbreakable friendships. It is easy to create a family that is make believe,

we just tend to leave the ugly side of the relationship out. It may be true that there is a

family that lives like the 'Cleavers' in our society today, but speaking realistically every

family will breakdown eventually. In an interview about his novels the author said, 'I

didn't set out to capture the good in every family, or bad for that matter, I just wanted to

show a typical Irish family.'1

Doyle's writing is real--he deals with issues that might not

hit home with every reader however, they are events that confront many people every

day. The Rabbitte family is used in all three novels that make up the 'Barrytown

Trilogy.' While the times are both good and bad for the eight members of this Irish

family, in some way they find a way overcome every problem that faces them.

One of Doyle's strengths is his feel for personality: his characters are neither

devils nor clowns, dolts nor wits, but wobble between the extremes. 'They're fish gutters

and mechanics, young knockabouts and unemployed workers who spend a lot of time

watching T.V. drinking Guinness and jawing at the pub, trying to...