The Whaler

The Whaler
Essay by Lene S. Grønne
28th January 2011

The Irish short story The Whaler by Joe Sheerin is about losing things we cherish and about growing up. Everybody has had someone to look up to in their lives, maybe a parent, sister or another person, but most of us have also tried losing the role model(s) again. A role model possesses qualities we would like to acquire, and in our childhood they are perfect. In this period of our lives we do not understand that being perfect is impossible, but while growing up we begin to understand the real aspects of life - that no one is perfect. The process from believing that everyone is perfect, to realizing that the complete opposite is reality, is a process full of disappointments. This short story is an example of this process.

The story takes place on a hill in Ireland with hills, meadows and fields in the surroundings.   It might be in a small town where everybody knows each other since the narrator knows so much about the Whaler and recognizes him straight away even though he has only spoken to him once. It must be spring, summer or early autumn since the Whaler wipes himself with a lush of grass after defecating on the hill and because of the presence of wasps: “He pulled some lush grass expertly and reached under his cloak. He made brushing motions upwards, threw the grass from him, stood tall in the meadow and pulled his trousers around his waist”[1] and “A fresh white loaf sat on the top of the week’s groceries. A wasp looked interested”[2].

The narrator is a schoolboy and must be quite clever since his teacher tells the Whaler that he is an imaginative and clever boy. While the Whaler is defecating the boy is embarrassed of the situation and when he is told that the Whaler rides his teacher he gets goose bumps. A religion teacher should be a good example and follow religious standards – not riding a whaler and cheating on her husband. Furthermore he sees a nearby mountain beside them as a whale while...