Silence and Familial Homophobia in Colm Tóibín’s “Entiendes” and “One Minus One”

José Carregal-Romero


The present study focuses on two of Colm Tóibín’s gay short-stories – “Entiendes” (1993) and “One Minus One” (2010) – in which the homosexual son meditates on his attachment to the dead mother. In both texts, Tóibín characterises the mother-son bond as being fraught with silence, resentment and lack of communication. In “One Minus One” and “Entiendes”, the son’s closeted homosexuality coexists with familial legacies of shame, uneasiness and duplicity. The central characters in the two texts are similar, as they experience the same type of existential exile, solitude and alienation derived from their complex attachments to home and family. As shall be explained, the author dwells on the damaging effects of familial homophobia, highlighting the limitations of the dominant heteronormative family model to accommodate gay sensibilities.

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