The 5th year students have been reading Claire Keegan’s novella ‘Foster’ as part of their comparative studies. They were enthralled by the story of this vulnerable child and her first experiences of care, tenderness and affection. The story is elegant in its simplicity and yet leaves the reader with many questions.
The students had the perfect opportunity to ask those questions of Claire Keegan herself on Friday; and the answers were deeply insightful. After reading the section of the novel where the girl attends the wake and goes back to Mildred’s house, the questions began to flow. The students wanted to know about the girl’s lack of name; about the hand in the water; about the relationship between the girl and John and the girl and Edna. The discussion continued about family in general and where people find love and affection. There were many questions that Claire could not answer because she said that it was up to the reader to create their own meaning.
Overall, the discussion was insightful and philosophical and certainly gave the 5th years plenty to think about. It will be fascinating to draw parallels between ‘Foster’ and ‘The Plough and the Stars’ as we progress with our comparative studies.