Star of the Sea: A Postcolonial/Postmodern Voyage into the Irish FamineMain MenuAbout This ProjectStar of the Sea OverviewJoseph O'ConnorIn this section, you will learn more about Joseph O'Connor and the other works he producedPostcolonial TheoryPostmodernismThe Gothic in Star of the SeaHistorical FiguresLanguage and Music in Irish CultureBiology of the FamineLandlords, Tenants, and EvictionsIn the following pages, you'll learn about landlords, tenants, and evictions during the Irish Potato FamineGovernment Policies and EmigrationMediaMemorialsContributorsBrief biographies of the people who made this book.
1media/Sea-Ireland.jpg2016-02-15T13:37:49-08:00Star of the Sea Overview79image_header2017-01-07T10:34:52-08:00Star of the Sea was written by Joseph O’Connor and published in 2004. It is a historical fiction novel that chronicles the voyage of a famine ship from Ireland to New York in 1847, which was the height of the potato famine.
The back of the book reads:
In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by famine and injustice, the Star of the Sea sets sail for the New World. On board are hundreds of refugees. Among them are a maid with a devastating secret, the bankrupt Lord Merridith and his wife and children, and a killer who stalks the decks in search of vengeance. This journey will see many lives end, while others begin anew. In this spellbinding tale of tragedy and mercy, love and healing, the farther the ship sails towards the Promised Land, the more her passengers seem moored to a past that will never let them go. (Star of the Sea, fourth cover).
The story is given to us by American journalist G. Grantley Dixon, who is himself a character in the novel, and is a journalistic murder mystery that is “newly revised with many inclusions” in the commemorative 100th edition. Dixon includes excerpts from the captain’s log, interviews from people connected to the characters, and historical documents and letters.
The murder mystery in the book is interesting because we know from the beginning that David Merridith is the person who gets murdered. The mystery in the novel comes from questioning who murders him, why he is murdered, and what past events caused this to be his fate.
Dixon breaks up telling the chronological voyage of the ship with chapters giving us insight into the characters’ pasts, explaining their stories. We see the major events that happen in the characters’ lives and also see how all of these characters were affected by the Irish Potato Famine.
Throughout the novel we question the concept of voice - who can be a voice for Ireland, for the famine? Does Dixon have the right to tell this story?
Ultimately this novel portrays the Irish Potato famine experience, the causes of why so many people suffered as much as they did, how it impacted people, and the lasting effect that the past can have on individuals.
The New York Times Book Review sums it up quite nicely: "Star of the Sea is...an agonizing inquiry into the nature of abandonment and the difficulty of finding anyone who will truly care about the fate of others."
Writer: Sarah Swansen Editor: Michaila Gerlach Web Designers: Madison Luke and Andrew Olsen
1media/Ireland.jpg2016-03-04T13:10:36-08:00About This Project33plain2016-04-23T07:45:24-07:00This Scalar book is centered on learning, with the goal of helping those who are coming to Star of the Sea as first-time readers, students, or teachers. We imagine that you may have questions or want to know more about the background to this novel, about ways of thinking about the issues raised by the novel, and about how the novel connects to Irish history and the wider postcolonial world.
The authors of the pages have also been engaged in learning since they are students in either Postcolonial Literatures with Professor Dawn Duncan or Technical Writing with Professor Erika Strandjord at Concordia College–Moorhead, MN. Both upper-level courses allow students to apply their learning in ways that reach beyond the classroom. The literature students did the deep research and wrote the content provided, while the technical writing students worked as the design teams for the website and created interactive content.
Enter and learn more about postcolonial theory, postmodern theory, the author Joseph O'Connor, and the novel. Then take a deeper look at specific issues in Star of the Sea. The three index bars on the top left allow you use the drop down menu at any time.