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‘How does Edna O’Brien’s story “Sister Imelda” explore the issue of “Secrets” as discussed in ‘Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory’ by Bennett and Royle.’ Illustrate your essay with specific examples.

Within the context of issues raised within 'Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory,' 'Sister Imelda' by Edna O'Brien explores some, though not all of the issues raised.  The chapter entitled Secrets explores the issues of theoretical literature and how we as readers may miss, or discard, certain elements of the novel which actually shape the novel, and our impressions of it.  The chapter title Secrets comes from Frank Kermode in an essay entitled Secrets and Narrative Sequence.  A novel will follow a usual path, having a structured sequence which makes it easy to read.  Novels with 'secrets' are 'at odds with sequence' and in turn create mystery within the reading of the novel.  Sister Imelda follows this mysterious narrative sequence.



Finally, the last major critical issue put forward is that the notion of secrecy allows us to think about the secrets hidden within ourselves that are brought forward because of those hinted at in the story.  The narrator says that 'In me then there came a sort of speechless tenderness for her and I might have known that I was stirred.'  While wondering what 'stirred' exactly means to the narrator, this sentence, and key word may cause the reader to remember a time when they themselves were in a similar situation, and this allows us not only to picture the scene, but to identify with the narrator.  Textual patterns will also allow us to associate events in the text with events in our own lives.  Words and images used will continue to do this within the story, using the theory of 'secrets' as an anchor for this. 

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