38 pages 1 hour read

Tana French

The Trespasser

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2016

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Parental Abandonment

The theme of parental abandonment dominates the novel. Both Conway and Aislinn were abandoned by their fathers. The critical difference lies in how each character chooses to react to that experience. When she was still young, Conway made up fantasy stories about who her father really was. After a certain age, she put aside those stories and dismissed her absent father as unimportant in her life: “I grew up and […] realized this is my real life, and I’d bleeding well better start running it myself, instead of waiting for someone else to do the job for me. That’s what grown-ups do” (176-77). When Conway’s father does show up midway through the novel, she sends him away. She has a life of her own that doesn’t include him. Conway also feels contempt for anyone who puts their own life on hold waiting for an absent parent to come back.

Aislinn's attitude is the mirror opposite of Conway’s. When Aislinn’s father disappears, she returns to Missing Persons each year for updates, long after the case has gone cold. Both Aislinn and her mother have allowed their own lives to come to a dead stop after the disappearance. In the case of Aislinn’s mother, her life doesn’t simply freeze after the abandonment; it comes to an end.