Women, Violence, and Silence: Roddy Doyle’s The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

In: Silence in Modern Irish Literature

This chapter examines the interplay of voice and silence in Roddy Doyle’s novel, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (1996). This novel transfers hushed-up abuses, such as domestic violence and marital rape, to the public sphere. From a working-class Dublin background, Paula Spencer reveals in the novel an urge to tell her story, a feeling that is magnified by the contrasting code of silence concerning her experience that is maintained in the society around her. In this way, the protagonist of Doyle’s novel exemplifies wounded, exploited, and marginalized subjects, violated and silenced through the structures of a patriarchal society. The chapter analyses the workings and maintenance of a code of silence in 1960s–1990s Ireland as portrayed in Doyle’s novel. Examining the paradoxically telling silence which permeates it, the chapter addresses the narrative and stylistic means that Doyle employs to create his fictional account of domestic violence and female exploitation as ethical, political and social issues in The Woman Who Walked Into Doors.