The Theme of War in Fool’s Sanctuary
One of the themes that Jennifer Johnston deals with in her book Fool’s Sanctuary is war. Within this theme she looks at how people view war, and how war affects different people. In this book Johnston shows the war in a bad light. Miranda, Mr. Martin and Cathal all support the IRA, or believed in a "free" Ireland and all lost something important to them. Andrew and Harry who were fighting against the IRA , and thought that Ireland should not be free had nothing that was very important to them taken away. Although Andrew was basically unable to visit his immediate family again he had not done so in years before, and in this visit where the story takes place he had arguments with his father, Miranda said that he should not have come, and he himself said that he hated Ternon.
Cathal is the most rational character at Ternon. Unlike the other characters he sees things for what they are and does not try to hide from the mistakes he does not want to face up to. The main fault in his character lies in the way the he does not always think ahead, or at least not until it is too late. This is shown when he comes back from telling the IRA about Andrew and Harry staying at Ternon and stands outside thinking about whether or not he should tell them what he has done.
In the end Cathal owned up to his mistake. As well as showing his strong conscience it also showed that he does not let emotions influence his judgement and values. While standing out in the rain he was Harry comforting Miranda. He could well have taken this as being something more than what it was and let the IRA come and kill Andrew and Harry. Cathal’s conscience is shown to be really strong, and it is the reason that he was able to give up his life.
The way that Cathal changed his mind about what was the right thing to do shows the irrationality of the war. Cathal supports the war strongly enough to be a member of the IRA, and it was this loyalty that led him to tell them about Andrew and Harry. When he changed his mind and told Andrew and Harry about what he had done it showed Cathal’s love for people.