Kate’s profession as a “national school teacher” permeates the household as she takes it upon herself to discipline and educate Michael. * When Michael shows her the kites, she offers encouragement, saying “They’re the most wonderful kites I’ve ever seen”. Much like a teacher, she aims to boost his confidence through the use of the superlative “most wonderful”, in the hope that this will encourage him to attempt more difficult things. She wants Michael to feel proud of his creativity, hence developing it further. * She displays interest, by enquiring, “And what are these designs?” She wants Michael to understand what he has crafted as well as be able to explain it. In some way, she is testing his knowledge by checking how much he knows about the Kites. Even when she brings out the “spinning-top” she prefers to let Michael figure out the mechanics for himself saying, “You know how to use it? Indeed you do”. Similar to a teacher, she relays her faith in him, spurring him on all the time “I wouldn’t miss that for all the world” referring to Michael flying his kites. Instead of spoon feeding Michael, she prefers that he is independent in his thought. * Kate is aware of the importance of education, therefore she brings Michael “a new library book”. She wants him to gain a decent education, therefore improving his prospects for the future. She uses the imperative “We’ll begin reading it at bedtime” suggesting that there is no compromise and that this action is mandatory for Michael. However, “we’ll” may also be implicit of her support and how she is willing to take time out in order to improve Michael’s literacy. * When she enters the house, she comments on Michael saying he’s “very mature for his years” and that he works “all by himself”. It’s as if she is Michael’s teacher who is delivering his progress report to a parent i.e. Chris. However, the declaration could also depict her noting down Michael’s progress so that she can come to a decision on how to progress him further.
* The way she scolds Chris for using “corner-boy language” when she expresses her discontent of Marconi, “Bloody useless set” (pg. 22)
Friel’s message- It seems that Kate is the only one in the Mundy house who believes in the importance of education, in contrast to her sisters who spend much of their time absorbed in domesticity and wondering about the outside world, with little appreciation for their own culture. Friel may be suggesting that it is the Irish people’s lack of knowledge which was the fundamental cause for their defeat against England in the 1930s. Had the nationals a clearer picture of their culture, they may have been able to resist the supremacy of England, together.
Kate is caring in her nature and adopts the motherly role within the household. * She dedicates part of her income to purchase a few items of luxury for her family, such as Agnes’ “Annie M.P. Smithson novels”. The fact that it’s “another of those” novels suggests that she has carried out this act of warmth before. * Furthermore, she notices that Chris’ skin is “far too pale” and so she goes about finding a solution, therefore bringing home “cod-liver oil”. She is even able to come up with a cause for Chris’ pale skin, saying “Because you take no exercise”. Friel demonstrates her profound concern, and implies that she must have been sub-consciously thinking about Chris’ skin, which explains her eventual reasoning. She wants to make sure that her family remain fit and strong, just like a mother would. * She tries to get to the bottom of every problem, despite the fact that it’s not her that’s facing it. She even goes as far as telling “the doctor” about Father Jack being “very quiet”. She looks after the needs of everyone, endlessly dedicating her time towards…