Night Boat to Tangier Summary & Study Guide

Kevin Barry
This Study Guide consists of approximately 35 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Night Boat to Tangier.
This section contains 723 words
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Night Boat to Tangier Summary & Study Guide Description

Night Boat to Tangier Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry .

The following version of this book was used to create this storyline: Barry, Kevin. Night Boat to Tangier. New York: Doubleday, 2019.

The novel opens at the Fort of Algeciras, Spain in the year 2018. Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond are two men in their early fifties; they are originally from Cork, Ireland. They believe that Maurice’s 23-year-old daughter, Dilly Hearne, may be arriving soon on a boat from Tangier. She estranged herself from them three years prior and went to live an itinerant life in Spain. Maurice and Charlie hope to make contact with her when she arrives, as she does not know that they are there. The novel then shifts back to the mid-1990s. Maurice was in a long-term relationship with an Irishwoman named Cynthia. Maurice and Charlie lived in Ireland, but they made contact with a woman in Spain named Karima. With Karima’s help, Maurice and Charlie established a illegal business secretly importing heroin from Spain to Ireland. Maurice soon began to have a secret sexual relationship with Karima.

The narrative then shifts back to Maurice and Charlie in Algeciras. They discuss life, and Maurice says that there are only seven things that can distract a person form the underlying horror of life and death: love, grief, pain sentimentality, avarice, lust, and a desire for death. The narrative then summarizes the events of the mid-to-late-1990s In Maurice and Charlie’s lives. They continued to operate their illegal drug importation business, with Karima as their main contact in Spain. Cynthia gave birth to Dilly. Maurice tried to be a good father, but he and Charlie soon became highly addicted to drugs. By the end of the 1990s, their business began to experience significant obstacles and difficulties, especially as Maurice and Charlie’s addictions increased and their self-control decreased.

Once again, the narrative then shifts back to Maurice and Charlie in Algeciras. Maurice talks about his father and about his experiences as Dilly’s father. Maurice always wanted to be a good father, but various factors such as drug addiction made it difficult to be a good parent. Maurice also had sex with other women, which caused much instability in Maurice and Cynthia’s relationship when Cynthia found out.

Dilly arrives in Algeciras by boat. She is surprised to see Maurice and Charlie at the port; she purposely avoids being seen by them.

In the early 2000s, Maurice and Charlie’s drug business experienced a rapid decline. Also, Maurice and Charlie had a falling out after Maurice attacked Charlie one night. The reason for this attack is not explicitly stated, but it eventually becomes apparent that Charlie and Cynthia had a secret sexual relationship at one point. After the collapse of the drug operation, the dissolution of Maurice and Charlie’s friendship, and the destabilization of Maurice and Cynthia’s relationship, Maurice went to live in Spain for a few years. He spent much of that time as a drug-addicted drifter.

After arriving in Algeciras and seeing that Maurice and Charlie are there, Dilly feels the urge to leave the port immediately, but she also feels the urge to talk to Maurice and Charlie and express love and forgiveness. The novel then states that, after Maurice left Ireland in the early 2000s, he eventually returned to reestablish his ties to Cynthia and Dilly. However, his behavior was increasingly erratic, and he was checked into a mental institution in 2013. By coincidence, Charlie was checked into the same mental institution at the same time. Maurice and Charlie reignited their friendship. A conversation between them reveals to the reader that it is possible that Charlie may be Dilly’s actual biological father, and that Maurice and Charlie were already aware of this possibility by this point. Not long after Maurice and Charlie entered the mental institution, Cynthia was diagnosed with a terminal illness and died.

The novel returns to the port of Algeciras for its final scenes. Dilly decides to leave without interacting with Maurice and Charlie. Maurice and Charlie catch a glimpse of her as she leaves. They console each other that Cynthia looked strong, healthy, and confident, and that she would probably be fine on her own. Maurice and Charlie continue to take solace in their mutual friendship, and they exchange words of hope for the future.

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