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The Red and the Green

Murdoch, Iris

London: Penguin


The Red and the Green

Plot Summary

The novel begins in the outskirts of Dublin in April 1916 where Andrew Chase-White, recently appointed Second-Lieutenant of the distinguished regiment of King Edward’s Horse, is strolling through the gardens of the home of his fiancée Frances Bellman, and her father Christopher Bellman. During his childhood visits to Ireland Andrew would spend time with his cousins, Pat and Cathal Dumay. Their father Brian, who had shocked and disappointed his family by converting from the Church of England to Catholicism, passed away and his widow, Kathleen Kinnard, would remarry Hilda’s brother Barnabas, a Catholic himself. As a child Andrew had always admired and sought to impress his cousin Pat, but being smaller and awkward, Andrew failed at gaining his approval. As a solider Andrew hopes to finally gain the respect and friendship he longed for in his youth, but upon his visit to the Dumay’s home he criticizes Pat for not enlisting and leaves disappointed in himself for his damaging comment. Unbeknownst to Andrew, Pat has every intention to fight, but for Ireland, which he feels he was born to do. Tensions and excitement increase as Pat learns that there will be a rising on Sunday April 18, which he will partake in as part of the Irish Volunteers.

Family relations prove illicit and secretive, and push Andrew’s family into conflict and sorrow as matters escalate. Christopher Bellman has intentions of marrying Millie Kinnard, the flirtatious feminist who had married Kathleen’s brother Arthur, both out of love and to save her from financial ruin as a consequence of becoming a widow. Distanced and frustrated by Kathleen, Barnabas is also in love with Millie. Pat has his own secret with her as he uses her basement to store armaments for the upcoming rebellion, and is shocked when she confesses her love and desire for him, which he rejects. Andrew is dealt an expected blow when he makes his formal proposal to Frances, and she refuses. Pat then learns of devastating news for himself when he hears that the uprising has been cancelled. Angry and seeking an escape, Pat decides to accept Millie’s advances, but upon his arrival at her home he discovers he is too late, as she is in bed with Andrew. Barnabas also witnesses this event, and in a series of unfortunate events, Christopher arrives at the exact moment of Pat’s horrified flight, and learns too of Millie’s affair with Andrew

He returns home and tells everything to his devastated daughter, who decides to leave for England and join the VAD. Andrew decides to try and make amends with Pat, but arrives just as Cathal and Pat are discussing the renewed plans for the uprising that is going ahead, and Pat is forced to take Andrew prisoner to prevent him from divulging the news to the British who he serves with. Pat restrains Andrew, and Cathal as well, because he believes his younger brother ill equipped to fight. Andrew is forced to stay as Millie arrives and threatens to divulge information that alludes to an affair between herself and Andrew’s father, and when Frances and Christopher arrive and free them both, Andrew does not reveal why he did not fight Pat, and Frances is enraged by his betrayal to his country.

In the Epilogue which takes place in April 1938 Frances is married and has a family in England. Kathleen writes to her giving updates on the family in Ireland, where Millie is ill but living. In her discussion with her family Frances reveals the fate of her relatives, her father killed on April 27 1916, shot by a sniper while trying to enter the Post Office in Dublin during the rebellion. Barnabas accidentally shot himself in the foot on the way to the battle and stayed behind. Cathal was killed in the civil war of 1921, and Pat at the Post Office the day before they surrendered in 1916. Andrew died at Passchendaele in 1917. When Frances’ son asks her who it was she was in love with, she says Pat Dumay, with tears in her eyes reflecting on the fallen from her past.

Main Characters

  • Andrew Chase-White

  • Pat Dumay

Significant Minor Characters

  • Barnabas Drumm

  • Kathleen Drumm

  • Millicent Kinnard

  • Christopher Bellman

  • Frances Bellman

  • Cathal Dumay

  • Hilda Chase-White

Publication History

The novel was first published in London by Chatto and Windus in 1965. In the same year it was published by Viking Press in New York. In 1965, as well, Penguin published an edition in London. The following year Avon reprinted the book in New York and the novel was also printed in Dutch by KBH. In 1967 Penguin reprinted it in London. The Royal National Institute for the Blind in London printed a Braille version in 1968 and in the same year the novel was printed in Russian at Moskva by Progress. A Swedish version was printed the following year in Stockholm by P.A. Norstede. Penguin Books in England and Avon in New York both printed editions in 1971, and Chatto & Windus again in 1974 in England. Penguin in London reprinted the text in 1976, and in 1977 the novel was printed in another language, Italian, in Milano by Garzanti.

Other English editions were printed in St. Albans by Triad Panther in 1978, and then by Triad Granada in 1982. In London in 1984 Chatto and Windus printed a new edition, and also in London Penguin reprinted in 1988. The novel was translated to French in 1989 and printed by Mercure de France in Paris. In 1990 Penguin reprinted again in London, and in 2000 a large print edition was produced by G.K. Hall at Thorndike. Vintage printed an edition in 2002 in London and another French copy was produced by Mercure de France in Paris. In 2005 and 2007 Vintage printed editions in London. Open Road Integrated Media in New York produced an e-book version of the novel in 2010. Novel is currently in print

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