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...