Satire and Trauma in Patrick McCabe’s The Butcher Boy

Melania Terrazas


The Butcher Boy (1992) is the third novel by Northern Irish author Patrick McCabe. It tells the story of 12-year-old Francie Brady and is set in the small town of Clones, in western County Monaghan, Ireland in the early 1960s. The town was badly hit economically by the partition of Ireland in 1921 because of its location on the border with County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. The Butcher Boy emphasises the significant influence the instability of the community during the 1960s, a time of rapid change and ethnic and political violence, has on this dysfunctional Brady family. These political and economic circumstances are very relevant for our discussion because the Bradys, as part of this small community, suffer from some post-traumatic consequences derived from these circumstances, which affect their psychological state and identity in very negative terms. This paper focuses on how McCabe recreates Francie’s post-traumatic effects of such a difficult childhood and upbringing through formal literary devices characteristic of both trauma fiction and satire rhetoric, and to what effect the Irish writer uses them.

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