world. O’Connor advocates generosity,ncompassion and forgiveness, a sense ofntruth and honesty, and the self-knowledgenthat makes all of these values possible.nO’Connor’s collection of storiesnabout the people whom he knew in Corknoften remind one of James Joyce’s collection,nDuhliners. But O’Connor dislikednJoyce’s style, feeling that it overshadowednthe content of his work. Instead, henadopted a 19th-century model, Stendhal,nand compared his own fiction to anmirror dawdling down a road. But Joycenand O’Connor have this in common:nboth present provincial and urban Irishnpeople and situations that are also universalnin nature, so that Dublin and Corknbecome microcosms of the modernnworld.nrJoth Cain and O’Connor werentrained to a certain extent by World WarnI, and both of them wrote their firstnstories about it, Cain focusing on lifenin the trenches (“The Taking of Montfaucon”nand “It Breathed”) and O’Connornon life in a POW camp (“Guests ofnthe Nation”). The war serves, then, as angreat initiator into the modern century, ansymbol of its violence, futility and ambivalentnmorality. For Cain the war is asnpointless as the soldier who takes thenwrong fork in the road, while for O’Connornthe war turns decent men into cogs inna mindless and heartless death machine.nIn addition to war, both Cain andnO’Connor dealt with the decay of marriagenvows and its deleterious effect onnchildren. Although the most famousnCain stories concern wives who deceive,nan equal number of stories invert the pattern.nThis collection contains a littleknownnnovella, “The Embezzler,” innwhich the bank teller husband uses hisnwife in an elaborate scheme to embezzlena fortune. And in “The Baby in thenIcebox” it is the husband who turns anhungry tiger on his wife and baby becausenhe suspects that she has been unfaithful.nCain’s point is that betrayal isnthe chief crime that one human beingncan commit against another, and it isnparticularly deadly when spouses are atn4()inChronicles of Culturenodds.nNeither Cain nor O’Connor tried tonestablish himself as an avant-gardenstylist; indeed, both wrote as if Ulysses ornMrs. Dalloway had never been written.nTheir stylistic patterns derive from annolder tradition. Cain, like Twain, revelednin American dialect and the unculturednslang of the West; O’Connor utilizes thenexpressions of the Irishman, then”begors,” “divils” and “mudders.”nApart from their use of regional dialects,nboth experiment with the limited pointnof view. The point of view in Cain’s story,n”Dead Man,” is that of a man ironicallynnamed Lucky, a drifter who accidentlynkills a railroad detective while bummingna ride on a freight. Although he succeedsnin establishing a foolproof alibi fornhimself. Lucky turns himself in to thenpolice when he reads the victim’s obituarynin the newspaper. We see with thisnman’s narrow perspective, we experiencenhis threadbare existence during thenGreat Depression and we agonize at hisnself-incrimination.nThe theme of guilt and confession runnthrough O’Connor’s work, as well. Obviously,nin a country that uses its religiousninstitutions as a means of control, thenconfessional and the priest often recur. Inn”The Cheat” a priest comes to a man’snhouse to tell him that he is dying of cancernand has just three months to live. Isnthe “cheat” of the story the priest, whonhas resorted to this last trick to win thensoul of the unbeliever, or the wife whonturns to religion to accept her husband’snillness? Conversely, O’Connor madenlight of the power of the confessional inn”First Confession,” in which a young boynconfesses that he has schemed to kill hisngrandmother, only to be given sympathynand candy by the priest.nThe point of view in O’Connor isnquite frequendy that of the child. “MynOedipus Complex” is told by a youngnboy who becomes insanely and humorouslynjealous when his father returnsnfrom the war and displaces the boy in thenmother’s bed. But, O’Connor also tellsnthe pathetic stories of the lost children ofnIreland, the illegitimates, born in secrecynnnin England and dumped on small farmsnin the Irish countryside. These confusednchildren live only for visits from theirn”aunties” and cling to vague dreams ofnnormal family life. The most powerfulnand poignant, “The Weeping Children,”nis told from the English husband’snpoint of view. He has married annIrish woman and had a child with her,nand then learns that she has deserted annillegitimate child in Ireland. He is, abovenall of O’Connor’s characters, a hero. Hentravels to Ireland to retrieve the child,ntaking her from a house filled with othernnameless children. As he drives away,n… he turned to wave to the littlengroup of children. They stood in thenroadway, their presents clutched inntheir hands, and he saw that theynwere all weeping quietly. It seemed tonhim that they were not weeping asnreal children weep, with abandonmentnand delight, but hopelessly, asnold people weep whom the world hasnpassed by. He was the world and henhad passed them by.nIn this story we see O’Connor’s valuesnmost clearly. He endorsed the moral andnsocial obligations all of us have, both personallynand collectively; but he also recognizednthat no one can save the world.nThere will always be weeping children.nIt’s difficult to give adequate expressionnto the literary complexity of thesentwo collecdons of stories. Taken togethernthey form a transatlantic panorama ofnlife from World War I through the Depressionnand World War II. It is ironicnthat the strongest and most ambitiousnIrishmen in O’Connor’s stories propelnthemselves to America, as to a new life,nfreed from the narrow and constrictingnburdens of Catholicism. But when we seenthe second- and third-generation Irish innsome of Cain’s stories they are in morendifficult straits. In the new world theynpursue jobs that don’t materialize andnspouses who betray them with frighteningncasualness. They are truly livingnamong the morally dead. Dn