“Sister Imelda”. By Edna O'Brien. Presented by. Bella, Callum, Alison & Anne. http://homepage.eircom.net/~jas/sisters.html. Outline. The author Edna O’Brien. The summary in “Sister Imelda”. Characters in “Sister Imelda”. Symbols in “Sister Imelda” . Edna O’Brien (b. 1936).
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By Edna O'Brien
Bella, Callum, Alison & Anne
The author Edna O’Brien
The summary in “Sister Imelda”
Characters in “Sister Imelda”
Symbols in “Sister Imelda”
The setting of the place in “Sister Imelda” is in the convent. And, “Sister Imelda” is about the teenage narrator falls in love with her teacher, the beautiful young nun, Sister Imelda. The joys of their love are a passion never to be realized but fanned by both teacher and student through notes, whispered confidences, devotional gifts, and an occasional hug or kiss. Imelda's and the narrator's romance makes life in the cold nunnery tolerable and even enjoyable. Sister Imelda holds for Christ, so the love between the narrator and her is unrealizable. In order to develop and continue their love, Sister Imelda lures the narrator into a permanent sisterhood of sublimated passion.
The narrator gradually does not communicate with Sister Imelda; she seldom writes to Sister Imelda. Later, the narrator almost forgets the existence of Sister Imelda, and she doesn’t remember that Sister Imelda ever plays an important and influential role while she was in the convent. Then, she and Baba take up the worldly solaces of makeup and nylons to attract and draw the attention of men.
Sister Imelda— she was a young nun and teacher in the convent. After she spent the last four years at the university in Dublin then she chose to come back to the convent. She seemed always to keep out so mysterious to her background and life.
Narrator— a teenage girl and a boarder or student in the convent.
Baba — a boarder or student in the convent, too. She was narrator’s best friend.
Mother Superior — she was rector in the convent.
What kinds of emotion between
Sister Imelda and narrator?
Only concern with each other?
The emotion between teacher and student?
The narrator seems to imitate Sister Imelda and take Sister Imelda an object of worship. The narrator’s curiosity makes her approach this special teacher.
Afterward, the narrator describes her inner emotions to Sister Imelda but the emotion is still hidden. Therefore, the worship seems to become emotion or even love.
Perhaps the emotion only was concern with each other.
Maybe that was a kind of emotion between teacher and student.
Or the narrator thought Sister Imelda could bring her special concern and made her obtain the love or concern, which her parents may never gave her. Therefore, narrator might think Sister Imelda could bring love as mother does.
“About a month later Sister Imelda…I thought how supple she … I was happy in my prison… bowed to the senile nun.” (2749 par 2 “About”)
Narrator started contact with Sister Imelda more familiar and she became happy in the convent as prison and liked to be near Sister Imelda or walk behind her etc. Sister Imelda brought her different feeling in the convent as prison.
“Baba could say that …powder adhering to me fingers.” (2752 par 2)
Here expressed narrator and Sister Imelda that their relationship became more familiar than before and even intimate. Sister Imelda treated narrator more special than other students and concerned with narrator especially. Here Sister Imelda was like a mother to comfort and encourage narrator.
“I could cry, or I could…but I could not tell her.” (2754 par 1)
“At Easter Sister Imelda… make the sound of a kiss” (2756 par 6 bottom)
That described the narrator’s emotion deeply for Sister Imelda. However, the narrator repressed the emotion in her heart of hearts and she could not tell Sister Imelda. Their behavior seemed still to express the different emotion from others and special. That seemed not only general emotion. It seemed to represent most special emotion as love.
Baba liked or envied Sister Imelda?
Maybe Baba thought Sister Imelda snatched her good friend because the narrator spent much time with Sister Imelda. Or maybe Baba envied the narrator why she could get along with Sister Imelda and Sister Imelda treated the narrator with more special care than she did to other students.
“Baba showed her jealousy by putting… with Sister Imelda and telling tales” (2751 par 9 line 6)
“From then on she treated me as less … Baba was delighted… receding in her eyes.” (2753 par 10)
Two examples expressed Baba’s reaction to narrator’s or Sister Imelda’s behavior.
Baba liked or envied Narrator? Maybe Baba might also like or worship Sister Imelda as the narrator did. Therefore, Baba might envy the narrator and wonder why she always gained special treatment from Sister Imelda. Or Baba liked and valued her good friend, but Sister Imelda made narrator spend less time with Baba. Therefore, Baba could not accept why narrator were always with Sister Imelda.
“Baba showed her Jealousy by putting…with Sister Imelda and telling tales” (2751 par 9 line 6)
“From the on she treated me as less …Baba was delighted…receding in her eyes.” (2753 par 10)
The same examples maybe expressed different meaning for Baba’s reaction to the narrator or Sister Imelda.
Map of Clare County. 12 May 2006
O’Brien, Edna. “Sister Imelda.” 2746-59. The Norton Anthology of English
Literature. Ed. M. H. Abrams. 7th ed. Vol. 2. New York: Norton, 2000.
Shumaker, Jeamette Roberts. “Studies in Short Fiction: Sacrificial Women in
Short Stories by Mary Lavin and Edna O‘brien.” Spring, 1995. 12 May 2006
“Sister of Mercy in Collooney.” 12 May 2006