Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Guests Of The Nation Frank O'Connor's "Guests Of The Nation" was a short story about many different characters who are forced to make a tough decision. Should they shoot two Englishmen whom they have befriended while holding them as prisoners or should they turn their back on their official putting their lives on the line as well. This conflict was the main theme that was foreshadowed throughout the story.

Belcher and Hawkins are English soldiers who were captured by Ireland guards during a war. While spending time together the guards become friends with the prisoners and spend hours a day playing cards and debating over religion and politics. At a time when war is life or death this story starts out at very happy setting but in the end it slaps us in the face about issues that we take for granted. As we read through the story we begin to see a picture of the harsh reality that friends will betray friends in order to save themselves from being killed.

As Belcher and Hawkins are prisoners they befriend Noble and Bonaparte. In their times together they forget why they are really there and that person has a duty. At this Ireland and England are at war and Hawkins and Belcher stay alive as long as the English soldiers don't kill any of the Ireland prisoners. However, it is inevitable that one or many are killed and in return the Irish keep their promise.

Donovan, an Irish officer, informs Noble and Bonaparte of what they must have to do. This is where the conflict takes place. Noble and Bonaparte must choose to either do their duty as they have promised or give up their lives for two friends. As they realize this they know that in the end if they sacrifice their life Hawkins and Belcher will be kill anyway. So as guards they prepare themselves for a lifetime of turmoil. Noble not having the heart to shot either one of his new friends goes to dig the graves while Donovan and Bonaparte stay behind to lure the English soldiers to their doom. When Hawkins and Belcher arrive their true character