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Der Roman A Star Called Henry von Roddy Doyle ist eines der Abiturthemen 2010 in Niedersachsen.

Die Referenzen in diesem Artikel sind auf die kommentierte Ausgabe des Ernst Klett Verlag, Stuttgart bezogen.


Spoiler warning!
This article contains plot details about an upcoming episode, book or any other feature of this topic.

A list of all summaries chapter by chapter.

Plot Summary

The set of the novel is the era of political upheaval in Ireland between the 1916 Easter Rising and the eventual truce signed with England in 1921, seen through the eyes of young Henry Smart, from his childhood to early twenties. Henry, as a member of the Irish Citizen Army, becomes personally acquainted with several historical characters, including Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and Michael Collins. Later, he becomes a gunman in the ensuing guerilla war against the British, setting barracks on fire, shooting G-men and training others to do the same. It is only at the end of the novel that Henry realises how little the endless violence and killing of innocent people has to do with the concept of a free Ireland, or the prospect of a better life in Ireland. A Star Called Henry depicts the War of Independence as the struggle for power by an elitist middle class with no room for people with ideals.


Narrative Perspective

  • first person narrator
  • reliable ( when he presents historical facts) / unreliable ( when he talks about himself)
  • omniscient (he knows things a normal limited narrator cannot know, all historical facts, his birth, etc.) / limited point of view (there are some things he does not know, other people's feelings)
  • biased / neutral (only when it comes to historical facts)
  • subjective / objective (only when it comes to historical facts)
  • nearly every perspective!

Henry seems to be a "narrating star" because he has got a lot of different perspectives to tell the story.

This can be an indication of Henry not finding a real identity.

Mode of presentation


Henry Smart Junior

  • ambivalent
    • naive but clever and talented
    • overcredulous but investigative
  • language:
  • attracts women
  • childish, boyish, uneducated
  • obedient, submissive, loyal
  • lack of empathy, not sensitive
  • silent, taciturn
  • attentive
  • comments on historical events like Forrest Gump or Oskar
  • readiness to kill (comp. Henry Smart Senior)
  • self given role as hero and saviour (jesu-like birth), "Henry the star"
  • invented past(comp. Henry Smart Senior)
  • hates the stars
  • isn't religious

Henry Smart Senior

incongruous traits of character:

strong, likeable features (> a hero)

  • impressive physical appearance
  • reputation as a strong man
  • ability to "invent himself" through stories
  • power of turning his physical deficiency into strength (the leg)

weak, critical features

  • readiness to kill
  • not being a reliable husband, father
  • evades responsibility
  • egotistic
  • he turns a blind eye on being manipulated

»Henry Smart is one of theses absent fathers who do not care about the legacies their absence leaves behind on the psyche of their children.«
— Mark Penty.

Melody Nash

  • reduced to mother role
    • ambivalent
    • weak, helpless
    • feels trapped inside
  • alcohol addiction
    • loss of children
    • loneliness
  • dreamy → looks to the stars

socical decline after her husband is missing

→ could be considered as a metaphor for Ireland (poverty, injustice, inability to change)

»Melody Nash is not a real character. She is one of Doyle's metaphors, a metaphor for Ireland«
— Moya Potéir.

Granny Nash

  • ambiguous personality, superstitious
  • a spine chilling with a banshee
  • a "survivor" with practical knowledge due to a hard past
  • experienced
  • personification of folklore (compared to a banshee, to a witch)
  • monsterous ("canibal eyes") and brutal (bites a guest on the day of her daughters Wedding Party)
  • reader, living on books, escapes into literature
    • reads feministic literature
    • reads sophisticated literature
  • enlights Henry jun. about his past → kind of Oracle

»Granny Nash is one of Doyle's larger than life characters, perhaps his greatest metaphor.
She represents the power of survival and the legacy of myths«
— Malachy Piaras.

James Connolly

  • father figure, role model for Henry
  • sees a successor and the "youth" for his ideas in Henry
  • teaches him to read and write, cares for Henry

Miss O'Shea

Piano Annie

Jack Dalton

Mr. Clemanis


Coming soon.


Songs and music

Henry's blue eyes

The names

Henry Smart sen.'s leg

The stars

The sewage system

The rivers of Dublin

Henry Senior's leg

  • It's a weapon
  • Legacy of Henry junior
  • sign for Henry jr. that Annie's husband is absent
  • a 'camouflage' for young Henry
  • connection to his father
  • instrument to killl

External Links

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