families portraid in Roddy Doyles books


Why do we hear so much about family these days? Perhaps it is because
relationships between family members are assumed to be the prototype for all other
social relations. In the novels, The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van, Roddy
Doyle shows his support of the family as an institution. Each character demonstrates
strength and direction within the family unit. However, when the stability of the family
is threatened, each character breaks down along with the family itself.

When we think of family life we associate happiness, a life of sharing memories
and developing unbreakable friendships. It is easy to create a family that is make believe,
we just tend to leave the ugly side of the relationship out. It may be true that there is a
family that lives like the "Cleavers" in our society today, but speaking realistically every
family will breakdown eventually. In an interview about his novels the author said, "I
didn\'t set out to capture the good in every family, or bad for that matter, I just wanted to
show a typical Irish family."1 Doyle\'s writing is real--he deals with issues that might not
hit home with every reader however, they are events that confront many people every
day. The Rabbitte family is used in all three novels that make up the "Barrytown
Trilogy." While the times are both good and bad for the eight members of this Irish
family, in some way they find a way overcome every problem that faces them.
One of Doyle\'s strengths is his feel for personality: his characters are neither
devils nor clowns, dolts nor wits, but wobble between the extremes. "They\'re fish gutters
and mechanics, young knockabouts and unemployed workers who spend a lot of time
watching T.V. drinking Guinness and jawing at the pub, trying to stave off the feelings
that they are nondescript people in a nondescript world."2
The Commitments is Doyle\'s first full-length novel. The main character Jimmy
Rabbitte, the eldest son, puts together a band. It is almost every teenager\'s dream, at
some point, to be famous playing music in front of large groups of people. In fact, this is
how this book started off. In the end, however, it turns out to be the complete opposite.
Doyle captures the emotions of his characters when they are weak and leaves an impact
on the reader with his humorous wit. He describes his writing as "a challenge that\'s the
enjoyable part. To an extent, that\'s what happened with all my books because I\'ve never
experienced any of the subjects I write about. I used to be a ten-year old boy, but I
certainly didn\'t watch my parents marriage disintegrate. I was never in a band, I\'ve never
been pregnant and I\'ve never been unemployed for a day in my life."3 It is shown that
Doyle has strong family values. In his writing he clearly demonstrates that if one family
member falls, it effects the rest of the family. In The Commitments, throughout the entire
novel, the band acts like a family. As the manager, Jimmy plays the role of the father
figure and trys to keep the band reaching higher levels, together. But, as members begin
to fight Jimmy finds it more difficult to keep the group together.

"Now, said Jimmy-tell your Uncle Jimmy all about it.
-I just.
-Jimmy could see Billy thinking
It\'s just- I hate him, Jimmy. I hate him -- I can\'t even sleep at nigh\'"4

The drummer, Billy\'s leaving was because of Deco, the lead singer of the band
who he couldn\'t face. Because they never talked, working out their problems was never
accomplished. The Commitments worked as a team to reach its success but when the
group was on the brink of acheiving stardom individual motives began to cause
problems. When the band stopped acting like a family unit the fights broke out.
"Somewhere in the quarter of an hour Jimmy had been negotiating with Dave from Eejit
Records, The Commitments had broken up." Jimmy came to the conclusion that it was
over. He moved on and kept his mind off the band. Success had in fact destroyed the
once harmonious group.

In The Snapper Doyle uses a interesting topic: pregnancy. Sharon, the eldest
Rabitte daughter accidentally gets pregnant. In the end, the father turns out to be her own
father\'s best friend. The beginning stage of her family breaking down is when she finally
confronts them about her being pregnant. While the family accepts the fact that