The Man of the House (2024)

George Ilsley

Author12 books273 followers

January 8, 2024

A sweet, wry tale of a ten year old boy who stays home from school to care for his ailing mother. The burden of responsibility is leavened by the boy's perceptions of the world, such as this while standing on a hill overlooking his school: "I could have stood there all day. Of all the profound and simple pleasures of those days, that was the richest."

The boy is also aware of his own weaknesses: The boy knew if he went too far from the house, he was liable to stray into temptation.

This boy is "the man of the house" and his actions foreshadow perhaps the man he is to become, or the behaviour of men he has known.

{Note, this is the second review I've written; the first was lost when the app crashed. As always is the case, I believe the lost review was superior in every way. Certainly it was more painstaking.}

    fiction historical-fiction ireland

Pritam Chattopadhyay

2,496 reviews155 followers

March 9, 2020

When he woke up he heard his mother coughing, below in the kitchen. She had been coughing for days. But, the narrator, a ten years old boy, did not pay any attention. And now when his mother had been coughing continuously, he was worried. He went downstairs, where his mother was working in the Kitchen. To his surprise he saw his mother collapsing into a little arm­chair, while coughing continuously. She was looking so tired that the boy felt sad and rushed to her.

He enquired about her condition and proposed to "light the fire". He even decided to stop going to school so as to help his mother in the household work. He made tea and butter toast for his mother and served her. Next he went to the bazaar besides going to school.

After returning home, he saw Miss. Minnie Ryan. A middle­aged woman, Miss. Ryan was very knowledgeable, gossipy and pious. He instantly proposed her for a cup of tea. This however, overwhelmed her to such an extent that she was bound to praise the boy. Even the mother acknowledged saying that the boy was "as good as gold".

In the afternoon, though his mother wanted him to "run out and play", the boy did not go too far. He sat on the wall just outside the house, "running every half an hour to see how the mother was and "if anything she wanted." When "evening fell", he bought newspaper for his mother.

Miss. Ryan again visited the mother. But, this time she feared the boy saying that the ailing mother might get pneumonia. For temporary relief she prescribed her friend to have hot whiskey punched with lemon. The dutiful boy rushed to the public house to have whiskey for his mother. After having consumed the hot whiskey, the mother fell asleep. But, her occasional cough worried her child all throughout the night. Almost all the night he was wakened by her coughing. When he went to her room, he felt her head very hot and heard her rambling in her talk. Moreover, it frightened him more than anything else when she failed to recognize him and lay awake.

The depression was terrible when his mother showed no indication of recovery in the morning. Hence, it was decided that doctor must be consulted for her recovery. Before the arrival of doctor the narrator arranged a basin of water and soap and a clean towel laid for him. Besides he had to get the dinner too, as it as after dinner "when he called".

The doctor came and he was overwhelmed seeing the boy's con­cern for his mother. After prescribing medicine for the ailing mother, he praised the boy saying him "a great little fellow". Hearing the praise of the doctor, the narrator's mother was glad. She admitted the acknowledgment of the doctor saying that her son was "the best in the world". Before leaving he advised the little- boy to look after his mother, as she will be the best for him in the long run. He further says that "we don't mind them when we have them'" and later we regret for them. After the doctor left, the boy rushed to the North Dispensary to get the medicine for his mother. He carried a bottle wrapped in brown paper under his arm to the dispensary.

It was a tiresome uphill journey. And when the boy reached there he found that the dispensary was a sordid little hallway with a bench to one side and a window like the one in a railway ticket office at the far end, There was a little girl with a green plaid shawl about her shoulders sitting on the bench. She asked him many ques­tions and the boy replied to her modestly. Even the girl waited for him till he got his medicine. She then accompanied him "as far as the steps leading down to the brewery. On the way the boy bought a pennyworth of sweets. He then sat with the girl on the other steps, beside the infirmary.

After a while the little girl enticed the boy to taste the tonic he was carrying for his mother. Since tonic is "awful to taste", the litt1e girl advised the boy to taste the tonic and also allow her to taste. The boy somehow could not refuse the girl, and they consumed the whole tonic in the bottle. After regaining consciousness, he moaned for the tonic, as a bit was left in the bottle, which would not serve the purpose of his mother. The girl then advised him to finish the rest amount and then say to his mother that "the cork fell out".

The boy then ran up the road from the girl, wailing. He hurried to the cathedral and kneeling before the shrine of the Blessed Virgin, he begged her to pardon him for spending the penny. Even he promised her a candle, if she would work a miracle and make his mother better before he reach home. After praying, the boy went to his home. There he found his mother much better than before. She unlaced his boots, and the boy being exhausted completely fell asleep.

When he woke up he saw his mother coming into his room with a candle 'and her paper. Seeing her in a better condition, he smiled up at her and the mother soon reciprocated with another smile. The boy felt relaxed after all misfortunes. He thought to himself that the "miracle had happened, after all.

Parents play an indispensable role in our life. There are no substitutes of them. "We don't mind them when we have them" and "then we spend the rest of our lives regretting it". Perhaps knowing this the idealistic boy-hero strives to cure his ailing mother single-handedly, despite being too young for the grave task. He gives her every comfort, sacrificing all his comforts: He attempts to make his mother feel better by bringing her medicines, appointing doctor, and properly nursing her all the time. Even he promises to spend a penny on a candle to the Blessed Virgin. This shows his devotion for his mother. Finally, he gets the reward for his service from the Blessed Virgin, who saves his mother miraculously.

Keso Gagoshidze

156 reviews20 followers

February 15, 2024

One of the most important ones I've ever read.
Just brilliant.
The responsibility of the young ones, self-criticism, depression, deep empathy. I'd loved to give a hug to Gus, he's a little champion.

ირლანდიელები მაოცებენ ბოლო პერიოდში, ერთ-ერთ საუკეთესო პერსონაჟებს ქმნიან.

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