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Dancers Dancing

            The Dancers Dancing by Elis Dhuibhne.
             The Dancers Dancing is a coming of age story set in an Irish College in Donegal during the summer of 1972. Dhuibhne uses a trio of protagonists, Orla, Aisling and Sandra, who are city girls (Dublin) that come from very different backgrounds. Aisling is beautiful, rich, and middle-class, Sandra is homely, low-class, and cynical, and Orla, the main character, is chubby, self-conscious and deeply embarrassed by her English mother and bricklayer father. The novel touches deftly on many different socio-economic crises in Ireland as well as the "North Question" through the adolescent girl's interactions and dialogue. The focus of the novel, however, remains the girl's (esp. Orla's) journey of self -discovery that all teenagers face when growing up. .
             As the girls move into their local Donegal farmhouses in the "Gaeltacht", (Irish speaking west) Orla is forced to confront her secret fears when the girls find out that her father grew up here and that she has family still living in the area. In a stereotypical display in the behavior of young girls, Orla soon becomes proud of her heritage and relatives when she realizes that all of the other girls have come to value and appreciate their unique Irish culture. These events exemplify the major differences in the Irish class system and the stereotypes that exist within the peoples of the Irish West and the capital of the Republic. The Dubliners see the West as an ancient wild Ireland and the West sees the city-dwellers as having betrayed their Irish heritage. .
             Dhuuibhne sets the novel in 1972, when the "Troubles" were still young and very raw in Ireland. She addresses those (Troubles) through the characters of Jacqueline and Pauline and their interactions with the three Dubliners. The girls at first have no real understanding of the issue or its complexities, but after living with the two Northerners for almost a month, they gain valuable insight into the problems experienced by both sides of the "troubles.

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