Guests of the Nation

‘Awkins Character Analysis

‘Awkins is a British prisoner of war, who, unlike Belcher, is outspoken and quick-tempered. He is constantly sparring with the old woman and Noble over religion or global capitalism. He doesn’t put much faith in ideas of patriotism or even the justness of the war he’s fighting, as he thinks faraway elites are the main drivers of war.

‘Awkins Quotes in Guests of the Nation

The Guests of the Nation quotes below are all either spoken by ‘Awkins or refer to ‘Awkins. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
National Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Guests of the Nation published in 1982.
Part 1 Quotes

At dusk the big Englishman Belcher would shift his long legs out of the ashes and ask, “Well, chums, what about it?” and Noble or me would say, “As you please, chum” (for we had picked up some of their curious expressions), and the little Englishman 'Awkins would light the lamp and produce the cards.

Related Characters: Bonaparte (speaker), Belcher, ‘Awkins
Related Symbols: The Fireplace
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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I couldn't at the time see the point of me and Noble being with Belcher and 'Awkins at all, for it was and is my fixed belief you could have planted that pair in any untended spot from this to Claregalway and they'd have stayed put and flourished like a native weed.

Related Characters: Bonaparte (speaker), Belcher, ‘Awkins
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

And another day the same 'Awkins was swearing at the capitalists for starting the German war, when the old dame laid down her iron, puckered up her little crab's mouth and said, “Mr 'Awkins, you can say what you please about the war, thinking to deceive me because I'm an ignorant old woman, but I know well what started the war. It was that Italian count that stole the heathen divinity out of the temple in Japan, for believe me, Mr 'Awkins, nothing but sorrow and want follows them that disturbs the hidden powers!”

Related Characters: Bonaparte (speaker), ‘Awkins, The Old Woman
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 2 Quotes

He looked at me for a spell and said, “I thought you knew we were keeping them as hostages.” “Hostages — ?” says I, not quite understanding. “The enemy,” he says in his heavy way, “have prisoners belong to us, and now they talk of shooting them. If they shoot our prisoners we'll shoot theirs, and serve them right.”

Related Characters: Bonaparte (speaker), Jeremiah Donovan (speaker), Belcher, ‘Awkins
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 3 Quotes

I rose quietly from the table and laid my hand on him before he reached the door. “What do you want?” I asked him. “I want those two soldier friends of yours,” he says reddening. “Is that the way it is, Jeremiah Donovan?” I ask. “That's the way. There were four of our lads went west this morning, one of them a boy of sixteen.” “That's bad, Jeremiah,” says I.

Related Characters: Bonaparte (speaker), Jeremiah Donovan (speaker), Belcher, ‘Awkins
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“Just as a man mikes a 'ome of a bleedin' place,” mumbles 'Awkins shaking her by the hand, “some bastard at headquarters thinks you're too cushy and shunts you off.” Belcher shakes her hand very hearty. “A thousand thanks, madam,” he says, “a thousand thanks for everything . . .” as though he'd made it all up.

Related Characters: Bonaparte (speaker), Belcher, ‘Awkins
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

We walked along the edge of it in the darkness, and every now and then 'Awkins would call a halt and begin again, just as if he was wound up, about us being chums, and I was in despair that nothing but the cold and open grave made ready for his presence would convince him that we meant it all. But all the same, if you can understand, I didn't want him to be bumped off.

Related Characters: Bonaparte (speaker), Belcher, ‘Awkins, Jeremiah Donovan
Related Symbols: The Bog
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 4 Quotes

“Listen to me, Noble,” he said. “You and me are chums. You won't come over to my side, so I'll come over to your side. Is that fair? Just you give me a rifle and I'll go with you wherever you want.”

Related Characters: ‘Awkins (speaker), Noble
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“Poor blighter,” he says quietly, “and last night he was so curious abaout it all. It's very queer, chums, I always think. Naow, 'e knows as much abaout it as they'll ever let 'im know, and last night 'e was all in the dark.”

Related Characters: Belcher (speaker), ‘Awkins
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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‘Awkins Character Timeline in Guests of the Nation

The timeline below shows where the character ‘Awkins appears in Guests of the Nation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
National Identity Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
...the ashes of the fireplace and ask, “Well chums, what about it?” An Englishman named ‘Awkins would then bring out a deck of cards. Bonaparte mentions that “we” had picked up... (full context)
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...would occasionally come to watch the card game rather than play. He often looked over ‘Awkins’s shoulder, chastising him like “one of our own” for playing the wrong cards. (full context)
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Bonaparte wonders why he and Noble are there with Belcher and ‘Awkins at all. He describes how the two Englishmen are strangely at home in what he... (full context)
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By quoting a bit of conversation with ‘Awkins, the narrator finally reveals that his name is Bonaparte. Bonaparte relates that he and ‘Awkins... (full context)
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Bonaparte, Noble, ‘Awkins, and Belcher are staying at the house of an old woman, whom Bonaparte describes as... (full context)
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Bonaparte says that ‘Awkins loves to argue with Noble about religion, which needles Noble in part because Noble’s brother... (full context)
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Bonaparte then tells an anecdote about ‘Awkins trying to strike up an argument with the old woman. When ‘Awkins complains about the... (full context)
Part 2
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Religion, Spirituality, and Materialism Theme Icon
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A big argument breaks out about capitalism, religion, and patriotism. ‘Awkins argues that the capitalist class bribes the priesthood to distract the common man, while Noble... (full context)
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Awkins gets wound up even further, and he continues to mock Biblical beliefs using offensive and... (full context)
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...the prisoners. This prompts Bonaparte to ask him why they even bother keeping Belcher and ‘Awkins around. Bonaparte claims that he’d rather be “out with a column” than doing this guard... (full context)
Religion, Spirituality, and Materialism Theme Icon
...is miserable as he returns to the house. When he arrives, the religious argument between ‘Awkins and Noble is still raging. ‘Awkins challenges Noble on the gaps in his belief in... (full context)
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...Noble about the true purpose for keeping them under guard. They resolve not to tell ‘Awkins and Belcher, thinking it’d be kinder not to. (full context)
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Religion, Spirituality, and Materialism Theme Icon
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...trouble interacting with the Englishmen. Belcher is at his customary place by the fireplace, but ‘Awkins is agitated. Noble can’t even respond to ‘Awkins when he begins prodding Noble about religion. (full context)
Part 3
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...hinted before that they might. Now, the Irish soldiers have orders to kill Belcher and ‘Awkins in response. Outside the door, a man named Feeney, who’s an Irish intelligence officer, is... (full context)
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The old woman protests this decision so forcefully that Jeremiah snaps at her. ‘Awkins complains that they’re being moved just as they’re starting to feel at home, but Belcher... (full context)
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...tells them that they’ll be executed in response to the death of the Irish prisoners. ‘Awkins can’t believe it at first, accusing Jeremiah of playing at being soldiers. Jeremiah responds by... (full context)
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Jeremiah appeals to Bonaparte to try to convince ‘Awkins that the execution is for real. ‘Awkins still won’t believe it and insists that he... (full context)
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...the British prisoners, and he resolves not to stop them if they try to escape. ‘Awkins asks whether Noble is complicit in this, and he claims that he’d never shoot his... (full context)
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Bonaparte thinks about the bog, despairing that it will be Belcher and Awkins’s resting place. He mentions again that he doesn’t want them to die. (full context)
Part 4
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Jeremiah, Bonaparte, ‘Awkins, and Belcher meet Noble and Feeney. ‘Awkins immediately lays into Noble for his complicity in... (full context)
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Jeremiah readies his gun and asks ‘Awkins whether he has any final messages or prayers. Instead, ‘Awkins appeals to Noble and Bonaparte... (full context)
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Jeremiah asks a final time for a last message before shooting ‘Awkins in the back of the neck. Bonaparte tries to say a prayer as he watches.... (full context)
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...the Irish had forgotten to offer this courtesy to the condemned men. Belcher notes that ‘Awkins isn’t dead and asks Bonaparte to shoot him again, which he does, killing him. (full context)
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After ‘Awkins dies, Belcher laughs darkly. He remarks that ‘Awkins was so concerned about the afterlife, but... (full context)
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Belcher asks the Irishmen to deliver the letter on ‘Awkins body to his mother. He says that he has no family of his own, as... (full context)
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...Irish take the corpses to the bog to bury them. Noble finds the letter on ‘Awkins’ body. After the burial, Noble and Bonaparte return in silence to the old woman’s house,... (full context)
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...away from where he was, distant from the bog and the bodies of Belcher and ‘Awkins. He feels unbearably lonely, and notes that nothing in his life felt the same way... (full context)