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Rose Brady Moran: A Character Study

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Rose Brady Moran: A Character Study

In most families people expect the dynamics to be patriarchal, and the Moran family in John McGahern's Amongst Women is no different. Michael Moran's character grabs the reader's attention and keeps it throughout the entire book, but it is with Rose that we learn the true dynamics of the Moran family. Rose is the character with whom the reader may identify the most as through her, we experience the quirks of the Moran family and the way they interact. She becomes an integral part of the family from the moment she meets them. Moran is the character that we are trying to understand and Rose is our medium for that, which makes her just as important. Moran eclipses Rose with the power of his presence, but Rose is ever-present in the background.

Rose Brady spent twelve years in Glasgow before returning to nurse her sick father. Moran first meets her in the post office, offering condolences, and it is in this meeting that her interest is piqued in the older man who would soon be her husband. Rose decides to go after Moran romantically and strategically plans her attack. "Her interest was too great. She had too little time. There was too much of the outlaw about him that held its own fascination. Painfully and in the open she had to make all the running (25)." Aside from herself and the Moran family, no one seemed to approve of this decision. "This unseemly chase after love was viewed with a hostile, overall amusement, for 'love' had left Annie and Lizzie - and many far younger - long behind and was valued like jaundice (25)." She faced reproach from the entire town, but endured. This is evidence of Rose's strength of character, her own feeling of separateness, and her determined nature.

Upon marrying Moran, Rose immediately takes the place of the mother figure that Maggie has been fulfilling in the Moran children's life. Rose seems to effortlessly fit the mold of wife to Moran and mother to Maggie, Mona, Sheila, and Michael. "All their eyes were turned on Rose but she, with just a glance at Moran, took up the Second Mystery as if she had been saying it with them all the nights of their lives (48)." The prayer was an important part of the Moran family's life; it was said every night by every member of the family and was another way for Moran to exert control over them. The ease with which she joined this nightly ritual is representative of how easily she fit into the family. The Moran family is known for its sense of separateness from the outside world, and though Rose is originally an outsider, she seems to belong with them.

As Rose takings on the caretaking duties of the house, Maggie now has time to have her own life. As if Maggie was her own child, Rose tries to look out for her best interest. She succeeds in convincing Moran to allow Maggie to go to nursing school in London where his oldest child, Luke, had failed. Rose only wants what is best for Maggie, which she explains to Moran. "'I'm far from against you, you know that. I want it for her own good. This place will always be here for her to come home to as long as I breathe. (50)'" It is because Moran believes that Rose wants this for Maggie's own good rather than selfish reasons that Moran complies. Moran knows that once his child is away from home, he will lose some control over her. Rose seems to know how to manipulate Moran's decisions to still make him feel as if he is in control of the situation.

Rose is more open-minded than Moran. She sees the outside world while Moran himself is closed off from it. So she is more able understand his children and their desires for their own lives. While Moran would rather they not move away and have their own lives, she encourages them to find their own ways. Moran feels a loss of control with the children gone, but externalizes it when he says, "'How will they fare without us? (90)'" Rose replies with what Moran is truly feeling but unable to admit, "'How will we fare without them?' (90)" While Moran lets his feelings show in a roundabout way that even his children sometimes have trouble understanding, Rose's feelings are straightforward. Sometimes, it seems as if she's displaying his feelings for him.

Sheila and Mona do very well on their exams and when Moran discusses it with the women at the post office, he downplays this saying that it's not a big deal. She does her best to make Moran understand why his daughters are hurt by this. "The girls looked at him with wide-eyed hurt. They felt that he had let them down in front of others. 'They'll think that you are running down your own children.' Rose articulated what they felt (86)." She also does her best to help his daughters understand his perspective. "'Well, that's the way Daddy is,' Rose argued. 'He probably thought that's what would please you the most. He's so proud of you all. He thought he might do you harm if he allowed it to show. (86)'"

Rose plays the peacekeeper and mediator between Moran and his children. For his children, she is both a mother and a friend. "Maggie had so little to do during the day that she spent much of the time chatting and gossiping with Rose (50)." Rose is able to gossip with her stepdaughters and loves them as her own children, and shares an understanding with them that Moran can never have. Also, when feelings between Moran and Michael start to get tense she succeeds in smoothing things over, if only temporarily. "'Everybody's tired now. We'll get to bed. Anything that has to be gone into can be gone into in the morning,' Rose said. Moran glared at her. He seemed about to brush her out of the way to seize

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