The Motives of Fatherhood and Sonship in the Novels ”Ulysses” by J. Joyce, ”Murphy” by S. Beckett and “At Swim-Two-Birds” by F. O’Brien

Yelyzaveta Vasyliuk


The article studies the characters of ”sons”, their spiritual fathers (patrons) and their parents. In ”Murphy”, and “At Swim-Two-Birds” the perception of ”Ulysses’s” characters of the “son” and the “father” has been revealed. The specificity and nature of the relationship between the “father” and the “son”, the complex, ambivalent feelings of both are studied.

The search for a spiritual father, as well as the search for a spiritual son, were interpreted parodically in ”Murphy” and  “At Swim-Two-Birds”. The feelings of the “father” to the “son” and vice versa are complex and contradictory, the ”father” has hidden motivations for the “son”. The issue of sonship makes  the ”parents” feel a complicated complex and spectrum of feelings; there are also reasons that keep the ”sons” from reuniting with their spiritual father, their conflicting feelings about the substitute ”fathers”, the vested interest of the ”father” to be a successful heir. The motive for finding sonship, one of the key motives of the Joyce’s novel, is carnivalized in “Murphy” and “At Swim-Two-Birds”. The choice of an uncle for the role of  father’s substitute in “Murphy” and ”At Swim-Two-Birds” can also refer to the characters of Hamlet and his uncle, which also creates an allusion to Stephen with his theory of Hamlet. The main character of “Murphy” dreams of the fate of Dante’s Belakva, the protagonist of ”At Swim-Two-Birds”  receives reproaches in laziness from his uncle. S. Beckett and F. O’Brien conduct a counter- ”Ulysses’s”  experiment: they leave in the vacuum the family relationships of the protagonist and his uncle, creating conditions for their rapprochement, but no reunion takes place. In the finale of ”Ulysses”, the “father” and the ”son” abandon the idea of reunion. “Murphy” ends up with the death of Murphy’, who overcomes the death of Christ, and in the pseudo-happy ending of the novel ”At Swim-Two-Birds” the relationship between the “father” and the ”son” becomes warm and close.


ambivalence of feelings; ”reunion”; James Joyce; ”patron”, search for father; search for son; Samuel Beckett; Flann O’Brien


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