John McGahern: The Barracks

(932 words)

The Barracks portrays the last years in the life of Elizabeth Reegan, the middle-aged wife of a police sergeant in a small, unnamed Irish village during the middle decades of the last century. The narrative traces the progress of her breast cancer from her initial, intuited awareness of it, through her diagnosis and treatment in a Dublin hospital, to her final, pain-filled days at home, where she dies childless, surrounded by her step-children. Her acute consciousness of her physical decline is accompanied by a deep metaphysical anguish that stems from her inability to locate her suffering in anything other than a terrifyingly bleak existential frame. An oppressive sense of her own insignificance assails her at every turn, …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Citation:
Harte, Liam. "The Barracks". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 March 2001
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1512, accessed 29 August 2015.]