A Journal for The Contemporary Church

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Catholic Shame & Female Blame: Edna O’Brien and The Country Girls Trilogy


Shame as Affect

For most of the twentieth century, in popular Irish culture, Catholicism was intimately connected with shame. Some lived their Catholicism with a sense that feelings of both shame and guilt were a routine part of the faith. Indeed, shame and guilt were often so intertwined that they were almost indistinguishable. Yet shame is distinct from guilt and is arguably, more significant in the Irish Catholic context. Shame flows through established social norms so that the interpersonal relationships formed in each society shape its particular versions of shame.

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