Doyle, Roddy - A Star Called Henry (Miss Drake)

Analyse how Henry characterises Miss Drake and the Father who baptises Baba Smart (37, 5) and explain the roles they play in the community and in Henry s early life. Roddy Doyle, Referat, Hausaufgabe, Doyle, Roddy - A Star Called Henry (Miss Drake)
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A Star Called Henry - Roddy Doyle

Task 3: Analyse how Henry characterises Miss Drake and the Father who baptises “Baba Smart” (37,5) and explain the roles they play in the community and in Henry’s early life.

Mrs. Drake is the local midwife. Henry describes her by using adjectives that would normally be used to describe a man, like huge or a mass of muscles. Moreover, Henry puts emphasis on this by using a metaphor when he says that “[...] “a mass of muscle and slopes” that looked like babies’ head bursting to get out” (p. 27 ll. 5-7). Roddy Doyle introduces by her a character who is very contradictive: on the one hand Mrs. Drake is the local midwife, which is a job that was more common for a woman at that time. On the other hand, he also gives this character a masculine physique. He underpins the male side of Mrs. Drake not only by introducing her as the local midwife, but also as a handywoman.

The contradiction can also be seen by taking a closer look at the inside of Mrs. Drake. First of all she appears as very dominantly and being rough. Apart from that, she also supports the Smart family by taking care of the household the first few days after the Henry’s birth. In addition, we should not forget her cooking skills. At the end of chapter two we get a new picture of Mrs. Drake when Henry tells us about him being baptised. Mrs. Drake convinces the pastor to baptise Henry without naming him, just in case Henry dies afterwards, which was not unusual at this time. People were convinced that a child that dies after birth without being baptised would be damned to suffer in hell. In fact the priest does not want to baptise little Henry without giving him a name, Mrs. Drake convinced the priest of the contrary to suggesting that the parents give Henry the name Cecil, which was the priest’s name.

The name Cecil is connected to a memory of Mrs. Drake’s childhood which I think is the main reason for not suggesting the name to Melody and Henry Smart. Her cousin’s name was Cecil and he “made her young life a consistent misery” (p. 38 l. 2). So she sins to protect Henry of this awful name. This leads us directly to another aspect of Mrs. Drake; she is a very religious woman, which we can derive from her efforts to convince the priest to baptise Henry. Furthermore, there are two or three passages where Henry mentions that Mrs. Drake forbids his mother from touching anything because otherwise she would poison everything she touches due to the fact that she did not confess her sins.