G u e s t s o f t h e N a t i o n
F r a n k O
C o n n o r
“We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them.”
—Epictetus (50?-135? CE)
L e s s o n P l a n
1. What is established in the exposition
? What do we learn about the situation and the
Relaxed, like a
. Cards, chums, Belcher &
ashes, light, Donovan.
men playing cards.
What is the significance of the card
You get dealt cards—fate
; how you play them is up to you—freedom
Men seem to be sharing one activity: image of human unity.
Illusion vs Reality:
unity even in
over card game. . . Donovan
Sig of the arguments about politics
: Suggests closeness—friendly male banter; arguing, but talking about substantive issues.
Subject: unfairness of economic & political powers in the world, idea of an afterlife.
isn’t always easy on a first-time reading to distinguish the English from the Irish. Effect?
Could suggest a basic human unity.
2. How is the setting
the events take place—crucial in this story?
English soldiers captured by Irish Republican Army during 1922 battle for independence
Also, they’re ensconced in a rural area some distance
3. Discuss Bonaparte
as a narrator
. Do we trust his account?
narrator: partially reliable
of details and honest
: doesn’t try to cover his flaws. But inexperienced
4. What is the conflict
? How is it resolved—or not resolved?
Irish—no, not war.
Duty. Concrete reality vs abstraction: country.
Asking the Right Questions
Are we driven by our destiny, the forces of
, the cards we are dealt, or are we
choose, to create who we are, to affect our life?
would say: freedom! Responsibility!
or to country
The issue grows out of a conflict of loyalties. Well, but
the English pose no danger
Which has the greater claim on our allegiance—loyalty to friends
or to duty
Either way there is an agreement, tacit in one case, stated in another.
Duty is an abstraction; friendship is a concrete reality. Either involves a betrayal (—but of
Which is worse? Well, the orders are unjust: killing prisoners.
How might Aristotle’s
affect our judgment of the situation?
of friendship has developed here—one based on
Do they care for each other for their mutual
—are they only
? Aristotle is concerned with right proportion, with fairness. What is
to the prisoners
here; what are the
of friendship? What do the Irish
their English chums/captives?