Single women in story and society
in Are the Irish different?
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The family has been central to Irish culture and society, evincing an anxious preoccupation with marital and familial relationships. This chapter examines two particular stories of single women, authored by men, to consider fictional stereotypes of singlehood and womanhood. William Trevor's short story 'The Ballroom of Romance', set in the 1950s, concerns a turning point in the life of Bridie, a single woman caring for her widowed father, labouring on the family farm, tending to cows and hens. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore begins with Judith, a woman in her early forties, settling into another, cheaper, boarding house in Belfast of the 1950s. Sociology is concerned with stories of people's lives and relationships. Sociological models of rural communities in the 1970s placed men at the centre of their analyses, married women and children at the outer perimeters, with unmarried women hovering at the limits of community.

Editor: Tom Inglis

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