Why “On Christmas Morning” by Frank O’Connor Deserves a Place in an Anthology

Table of Content

Frank O’Connor’s stories are frequently featured in collections of short stories due to their reputation as quality works. However, it is imperative to select one particular story by Frank O’Connor that deserves to be included in an anthology, and provide a comprehensive explanation for its inclusion. Personally, I found great pleasure in reading “On Christmas Morning” by Frank O’Connor, primarily due to its exploration of various themes. In this essay, I will examine the story’s merits and demonstrate why it deserves a place amongst other exceptional short stories. “On Christmas Morning” revolves around the formative years of Larry, a young Irish boy.

In the story, we learn that Larry is the eldest of two brothers and has a dislike for Sonny. Larry shows little interest in school and would prefer to play with his friends, questioning why his mother values education. He has a poor relationship with Sonny, who is skilled in academics and holds a favored position in their mother’s eyes.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Larry chooses not to try to be smarter than Sonny because he knows he will fail. He blames his inability on the difficult math problems assigned by Flogger Dawley. Larry and Peter Doherty end up getting into trouble instead. As the story progresses, Larry becomes more deceitful, mainly due to his association with the Doherty gang. His mother is unhappy with this, often urging him to prioritize his lessons over playtime. The most significant example of Larry’s deceitfulness is when he switches presents with Sonny, believing he has received the better gift. He convinces himself that Sonny would prefer a picture book over a popgun and that he is doing Sonny a favor. Despite what the Dohertys believe, Larry genuinely believes in Santa Claus. However, when he and Sonny show their presents to their parents, Larry notices his mother’s brief smile and realizes that she had bought the gifts herself—thereby discovering that Santa Claus is not real.

He is filled with remorse for his actions, tearfully exclaiming, “I burst out crying, threw the popgun on the floor, and ran bawling out of the house………” He has now come to understand his mother’s desire for more from him and recognizes that she fears he will follow in his father’s footsteps. Larry’s mother is the second character who gives the story its authenticity. She struggles to raise two children largely on her own, with only minimal financial support from her husband.

The husband neglects his wife and spends money at the pub, providing no real support. He is frequently drunk and lacks awareness of her presence at home. The author characterizes him as “mean, common, and a drunkard.” The mother finds solace in her youngest child, Sonny, who excels academically. However, she cannot shake her concerns about her eldest son, Larry. Despite her efforts, she fears he will follow in his father’s footsteps.

The story focuses on two main themes: growing up and familial relationships. Despite his young age, Larry has already experienced a challenging life. It appears that his mother, lacking support from her husband, expects him to mature faster than usual. However, due to Larry not meeting these expectations, his mother loses faith in him prematurely. Additionally, the story explores the significance of family relationships.

The story showcases several troubled relationships. Larry and Sonny, the mother and father, as well as Larry and his mother all have strained connections. The only positive relationship depicted is between Sonny and his mother. The boys’ poor relationship stems from growing up in an environment where their parents’ relationship is strained. Additionally, there is a minor theme of lost innocence and guilt.

Larry is the character who experiences these emotions, feeling guilty towards his mother towards the end of the story. It is evident that Larry has lost his childlike innocence and may follow in his father’s footsteps. O’Connor’s use of Irish dialect adds an Irish touch to the story, while the first person narration provides a more personal and possibly biased perspective of events.

Larry, the narrator, expresses his thoughts, emotions, and realization of his disappointing life in the ironic-titled story. Despite the association of Christmas with happiness, Larry reflects on how he has let down his mother. This captivating story explores various themes and features realistic characters, making it a valuable addition to any anthology. The multiple readings required to fully comprehend the events adds to its appeal.

The aspect that intrigued me was the ability for one person to read it and derive a completely different meaning compared to someone else.

Cite this page

Why “On Christmas Morning” by Frank O’Connor Deserves a Place in an Anthology. (2018, Nov 21). Retrieved from


Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront