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Morley Callaghan's Novel The Rejected One

Categories: Novels

In this commentary I will study an extract from The Rejected one written by Morley Callaghan. I will write about the story’s plot and at the same time I will write how the author has used. Morley Callaghan tells us about a man called Karl introducing his new girlfriend, Mamie, to his family. The title The Rejected One is symbolic to the theme of this story, and the extract is part in the story where the “rejection” starts. It starts with a scene of an early winter evening, Karl and Mamie walking on the way to his family’s house, the author uses the word “bringing” to describe how Karl was conveying her, instead of the verb “taking”, “bringing” has the effect of hinting the readers to become conscious of the negative effect it has on expressing the characters moods, here it could be showing that Mamie is unwilling to go, or that Karl is feeling hassled but has no choice to take her to see his family.

The author built the mysteriousness by not mentioning Mamie’s name, she was simply addressed by “her”, this technique has the effect on making the readers become more interested in the story and have an intention to find out who this woman is.

The next sentence is the summary and the introduction to the whole passage, explaining where they are going and what they are about to do.

“His people” which corresponds to Karl’s family, this choice of phrase to stand for Karl’s family can give the impression of his closeness to them and Mamie’s distance from them.

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Karl is described as “uneasy”, this might be for the reason that he does not feel the appearance of Mamie is appropriate, he thinks that she should look more modest. But why would Karl take appearances so severe? He seems so worried about what his family would think of her, so his nerves are taken out on Mamie’s appearance.

Mamie seems to feel his uneasiness but does not know that he is worrying about her look. He then warns her about his mother, his tone cautious and serious, the gives the impression that his mother is not an approachable person and that she might do something to upset Mamie. She replies him timidly, suggesting that Karl has never been so serious with her before, but then sensing her fear he reassures her that she will like his brother, giving reassurance to himself too. The story becomes even more even more motivating with the mentioning of Karl’s mother and brother, we have an idea of how Karl observes them and a prediction of how they would be when Mamie meets them, he is quite certain how they would behave towards her. And this makes the readers want to discover these mysterious characters.

Although this novel is written in the third person perspective, the writer has a custom of writing from different characters point of view, this technique makes the story more precise and interesting. From the beginning, the story had been in the perspective of Karl. When they finally they arrive at the house, we can notice the difference in perspective has changed from Karl to Mamie. Mamie shyly hides behind Karl as Karl’s brother and his wife approach, and the attention is immediately brought to Karl’ brother John, Karl greets John affectionately and introduces Mamie to him, his speech here sounds more like hinting than an introduction. Karl leaves her to stand alone while they observe her, “shrewd” is the word to describe how they looked at her, this brings a negative feeling at once. The attention is then brought to the young wife Helen, her description of appearance is a great contrast to Mamie, this may be the Author’s deliberate intention to make Mamie become more distant from them.

While focusing on Helen we notice a detail when she looked at her husband, “her face grew troubled” this indicates that John could be interested in Mamie, in a way that would even worry his own wife. And this is a good enough reason for Helen to not get a good start with Mamie. But still leads her in to the living room. In the living room there is an old lady, we can guess that it is Karl’s mother as of descriptions from Mamie’s perspective such as “sitting in an invalid chair” and “(eyes)so much like Karl’s” but just for insurance Karl addresses her as mother and then introduces Mamie to her. The perspectives change again back to Karl. Mamie’s actions instantly contrast with her shyness she showed before, this time making Karl feel proud of her of how confidant she is now, her smile gives Karl the impression that she had been practicing this moment for a long time, and she suddenly is more elegant and precious to Karl than ever before, but Karl did not miss his brother turning his head away not to look at her or Helen looking angry, even Karl admits that he does not know why they are doing this, there must have been something in the way John behaved to make Helen angry, this links to before when Helen felt troubled by the way John looked at Mamie, this raises questions, could John be a little too interested in Mamie?

Is Helen viewing Mamie as a threat to her marriage? Or is Helen just a jealous of the attention she is getting from her husband? This reminds the readers that we don’t know John at all, he is not just what we have seen in Mamie’s perspective, and he still is regarded as a mysterious character. The author uses this to intrigue the readers even more. Karl’s mother speaks to Mamie in a blunt tone, showing that she is not hugely impressed by her.

Her speech clarifies the relationship between them all, her relationship with Mamie is just simply through Karl, and she shows no intention of changing that at all, and Mamie’s relationship with “them” is still very distant, under the courtesy it would be their duty to host the guest, but have no meaning to get close to her. Karl’s mother says “Karl is just a boy. I suppose you know he’s just a boy…” she and Mamie are connected together by Karl, because they both love Karl but in different ways, she knows how Karl feels for Mamie however Karl’s mother does not take the way Mamie loves Karl seriously , and this is like a warning to Mamie instead of a greeting. After on Karl’s mother just start dosing again.

And then Mamie did something perplexing, she stood on the spot for a while before bursting out with laughter saying “for the love of Mike, why are we acting all so stiff.” Surprising everyone in the room, including the readers. What would have made her do this sudden outburst of unpredictable speech? Not very likely to be nervousness that triggered her off, nor any inklings of this is a joke, her comment on atmosphere is “stiff” and uncomfortable, but she wants to be herself now, and doesn’t seem to care of how they would think of her now she has met them all, as she moved towards Karl, the mother closed her eyes in a way described to “make them all feel uneasy”. Her sudden change in character also changed how Helen thought of her, Helen instantly is “anxious” to be hospital to her, maybe to get to know this unpredictable person more, or just to fulfil her duty as a host and obeying the old Mrs. Henderson’s orders. But Karl still notices John glancing “furtively” at Mamie, and Karl does not know whether to like this or not, he is not sure if it is a sign that John accepts her as a new member in the family, or that John is thinking of other things that would make his wife worried about Mamie. Karl then tries to take their attention of Mamie by starting a conversation ending this extract.

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Morley Callaghan's Novel The Rejected One. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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