Xiyun Yang, English 171, Sages and Satirists, Brown University, 2002
More than anything, John McPhee's
A piper schooled in classical
The intricate relations and histories between the islanders of Colonsay contribute to a collective consciousness. Refering into this sense of historical closeness, McPhee characterizes the actualislandofColonsayas a living and breathing creature at once independent and composed of its residents. The collective pool of unnamed voices that he falls back on to characterize the islanders is the voice of the island of Colonsay.
"Ten minutes, gentlemen."
"The laird is an evil man in several sense of the word."
"As a boy, he took his sweets off and ate them by himself in the woods."
"That, I should say, is characteristic of him today."
"His two brothers and his sister—they shared sweets with other."
In the end, McPhee leaves the island with a grafted sense of history. "One associates with one's ancestors at one"s risk. I will never again be able to look a MacMillan in the eye." In what tone does McPhee end the book? Does he truly mean that he will never be able to look a MacMillan in the eye? How does his end tone contribute to the progression of his view towards the island of Colonsay and his past?
McPhee often jumps without transition between his stories, for example, on page 91, he jumps from the scene in the church to a gruesome confrontation with death. Why does he do this? What effect does this have on the reader? Is it effective?
Last modified 17 November 2003