84 pages 2 hours read

John Boyne

The Heart's Invisible Furies

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2017

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Important Quotes

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Content Warning: This Important Quotes section discusses the prejudice, discrimination, and hate crimes against gay men that are portrayed in The Heart’s Invisible Furies.

“Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.”

(Part 1, Book 1, Chapter 1, Page 5)

In the opening line of the novel, the intolerance that was rampant in 20th-century Ireland is immediately clear. Catherine, the novel’s deuteragonist, is cast out of the only home and family she knows after it is discovered she is pregnant. The irony and hypocrisy of misogyny in 20th-century Ireland is also made evident as the priest himself was guilty of two affairs.

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“As they walked toward the bridge, my mother looked over the side of the railings into the River Liffey, a filthy determination of brown and green making its way urgently toward the Irish Sea as if it wanted out of the city as quickly as possible, leaving the priests, the pubs and the politics far behind it.”

(Part 1, Book 1, Chapter 5, Page 24)

When Catherine arrives in Dublin, she is shocked by the pollution and cultural degradation that seems to her fresh eyes to be everywhere. The presence of alcohol is on every corner, and the influence of Catholicism in politics looms in the air. This quote foreshadows the way Catherine, in Bearing Witness to Prejudice, Intolerance, and Hatred, will react to struggle and violence as effects of intolerance and repression.

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“I waited a few moments to gather my thoughts before opening my lungs for the first time and with an almighty roar, one that must have been heard by the men in the pub below who came running up the stairs to discover the cause of such a racket, announced to the world that I had arrived, that I was born, that I was part of it all at last.”

(Part 1, Book 1, Chapter 10, Page 48)

Cyril is born in a moment of violence as a result of the prejudice and hatred that often results in hate-based attacks against LGBT+ people. As he narrates his own life in first-person perspective, he gives himself the full awareness and cognition that he imagines he had in that moment.