Guests of the Nation

The Fireplace Symbol Analysis

The Fireplace Symbol Icon

The fireplace is a central component of the home, especially in the time before central heating. As such, it comes to symbolize home and domesticity in the story, and furthermore, it represents the opportunity to create a home in unlikely places. The British prisoner Belcher, whose own home fell apart after the departure of his wife and children, constantly has his legs in the “ashes” of the fireplace. This suggests that he has begun to feel at home, even as a prisoner in Ireland. Likewise, Noble kneels near the fireplace after Belcher and Awkins are executed, but this time, the effort to feel at home in spite of his despair is fruitless. Here, the fireplace implies that home cannot be created by domestic objects or structures (such as fireplaces) alone: home is really about the people who inhabit it.

The Fireplace Quotes in Guests of the Nation

The Guests of the Nation quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Fireplace. 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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Part 4 Quotes

“But my missus left me eight years ago. Went away with another fellow and took the kid with her. I likes the feelin' of a 'ome (as you may 'ave noticed) but I couldn't start again after that.”

Related Characters: Belcher (speaker), The Old Woman
Related Symbols: The Fireplace
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Fireplace Symbol Timeline in Guests of the Nation

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Fireplace appears in Guests of the Nation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2
Religion, Spirituality, and Materialism Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
...language that irritates Noble. Belcher just humors him by agreeing periodically while warming himself by the fireplace . (full context)
Part 4
Religion, Spirituality, and Materialism Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
...ground in grief, praying with her rosary beads. Noble also sinks to his knees near the fireplace . Overwhelmed, Bonaparte pushes his way out of the house. (full context)