Juno and the Paycock

Juno and the Paycock Quotes and Analysis

Oh, he'll come in when he likes; struttin' about the town like a paycock with Joxer, I suppose.

Juno, 6

Juno often refers to Boyle as a peacock ("paycock"). "I killin' meself workin', an' he sthruttin' about from mornin' till night like a paycock!" (10) she says, and later, "Your poor wife slavin' to keep the bit in your mouth, an' you gallivantin' about all day like a paycock!" (13-4.) Mrs. Madigan uses the comparison as well when she comes to collect the debt he owes her: ""You're not goin' to be swankin' it like a paycock with Maisie Madigan's money - I'll pull some o' th' gorgeous feathers out o' your tail!" (59.) The comparison connotes pride and useless display, yet at the expense of other people's work.

When the employers sacrifice wan victim, the Trades Unions go wan betther be sacrificin’ a hundred.

Juno, 8

Mary currently has no income, as she is on strike. She insists that "a principle's a principle," but Juno retorts, "Yis; an' when I go into oul' Murphy's tomorrow, an' he gets to know that, instead o' payin' all, I'm goin' to borrow more, what'll he say when I tell him a principle's a principle?" (8.) Juno is practical and has no room for idealism in the midst of poverty. She alone in her family seems to see that following abstract moral principles leads to suffering, whether it be through unemployment (as in Mary's case) or through injury and even death (as in Johnny's).

I'm goin' to tell you somethin', Joxer, that I wouldn't tell to anybody else - the clergy always had too much power over the people in this unfortunate country... Didn't they prevent the people in '47 from seizin' the corn, an' they starvin'; didn't they down Parnell; didn't they say that hell wasn't hot enough nor eternity long enough to punish the Fenians? We don't forget, we don't forget them things, Joxer. If they've taken everything else from us, Joxer, they've left us our memory.

Boyle, 22

Even though Boyle forgets these injustices once he thinks he is a man of property, this quote reflects O'Casey's own feelings about the clergy's betrayal of the Irish people. 1847 was the height of the Irish potato famine, and corn (cereals) were used to pay rent. Charles Stewart Parnell was a political figure who lost support after a divorce scandal, and the Fenian Brotherhood was a secret revolutionary organization opposed by most of the Catholic hierarchy. The fact that Boyle retracts this statement later on shows how he uses history to suit his own purposes, whether or not it is true.

In this quote O'Casey uses a commonplace aphorism ("hell wasn't hot enough nor eternity long enough...") to add conviction to his argument. The aphorism supposedly originated in a sermon preached by Bishop Moriarty in March 1867 and had become a part of what could be called a "rebel folklore."

Ah, you lost your best principle, me boy, when you lost your arm; them's the only sort o' principles that's any good to a workin' man.

Juno, 27

Mary and Johnny both regale their mother with their beliefs about principles. Mary twice states "a principle's a principle," once in regard to striking in support of a fired co-worker, and once in support of her brother's nationalistic actions. Johnny repeats the slogan, at which point Juno retorts with the quote above. The exchange sets up a thematic dichotomy of abstract moral principles versus practicality. Juno points out that principles based on nationalism, socialism, or religion are of no use in feeding the family and fighting the poverty which is the true enemy of the people.

Juno! What an interesting name! It reminds one of Homer's glorious story of ancient gods and heroes.

Bentham, 27

While Boyle explains that Juno was so named because of the many important events in her life that happened in June, Bentham's comparison of Juno to the Roman goddess of love is an apt one. Juno in Roman mythology was the sister and wife of Jupiter and the queen of heaven. She had a chariot drawn by peacocks, birds that were sacred to her, and was sometimes depicted with a peacock at her feet. Ironically, she refers to Boyle as a peacock, but for his vanity and uselessness rather than for his help. Homer and Virgil depict Juno as an imperious wife who is more likely to scold Jupiter than to caress him; Boyle's Juno also scolds her husband, though he may deserve it. However, she also espouses many qualities appropriate for a goddess of love, such as selflessness and altruism.

I'm telling you... Joxer... th' whole worl's... in a terr...ible state o'... chassis!

Boyle, 73

Boyle speaks these words many times throughout the play. They reflect his deterministic world view and the assumption that man can do nothing to fight against the chaos ("chassis") that has ensued. Instead, Boyle escapes through fantasies and drink. His attitude contrasts with Juno's assumption of free will: "Ah, what can God do agen the stupidity o' men!" (70.) The appearance of this line both at the beginning and the end of the play suggests that little has changed, at least for Boyle.

Ireland only half free'll never be at peace while she has a son left to pull a trigger.

Johnny, 27

This slogan reflects how people's hopes for independence have been thwarted by Ireland's partition. This national partition is paralleled by the partition of the legacy left to Boyle by his cousin into so many pieces that it becomes worthless. Johnny's slogan is also a reflection of the way in which men try to solve conflicts through violence, in contrast to the play's female characters.

It’ll have what’s far better- it’ll have two mothers.

Juno, 71

Juno makes this statement to Mary after they agree to raise Mary's child together. "My poor little child that'll have no father," Mary laments, but Juno points out that the child will be far better off with two mothers. The quote reinforces the play's dichotomy between male and female characters, in which the males are selfish, lazy, and deceitful, while the females are loving and altruistic. While hopeful, the quote also has a tragic undercurrent, for neither Juno nor Mary can change their men into responsible fathers. All they can do is compensate with their own strength for the good of the child.

Maybe I didn't feel sorry enough for Mrs. Tancred when her poor son was found as Johnny's been found now - because he was a Diehard! Ah, why didn't I remember that then he wasn't a Die-hard or a Stater, but only a poor dead son! ....Sacred Heart o' Jesus, take away our hearts o' stone, and give us hearts o' flesh! Take away this murdherin' hate, an' give us Thine own eternal love!

Juno, 71-2

Unlike the men in the play, Juno undergoes a spiritual evolution as a result of her suffering. In Act II, she tries to justify her neighbor's bad fortune: "In wan way, she deserves all she got; for lately, she let th' Die-hards make an open house of th' place; an' for the last couple of months, either when th' sun was risin' or when th' sun was settin', you had C.I.D. men burstin' into your room, assin' you where you were born, where were you christened, where were you married, an' where would you be buried!" (47.) She also chastises Needle Nugent when he tells them to have more respect for the dead: "Maybe, Needle Nugent, it's nearly time we had a little less respect for the dead, an' a little more regard for the livin'" (49). Once she loses her own son, however, she understands how much she shares with mothers everywhere whose children have been sacrificed in the war. Her heart opens, giving her the strength to leave Boyle shortly thereafter in order to help raise her grandchild.

With all our churches an' religions, the worl's not a bit the betther.... when we got the makin' of our own laws I thought we'd never stop to look behind us, but instead of that we never stopped to look before us! If the people ud folley up their religion betther there'd be a betther chance for us...

Juno, 36

Juno's statement may reflect O'Casey's own views. While Juno is a Catholic who believes in the redeeming power of God and O'Casey left the Protestant church in his 20s, both agree that religion has not solved Ireland's problems. They are also both disenchanted with the political state of the country, for independence from England has resulted only in more chaos and violence.