The Testament of Mary The Testament of Mary question

the big angry bird in the cage - what do you think it means?
Kirsten Kirsten Nov 26, 2012 07:44PM
Do you think it is the crowd? My take is that the rabbits it was being fed are the men on the crosses. That's putting it simply, but is there any other input?

I tend to think of the image more broadly- that the vulnerable will always be in danger from aggressive predators, because that is the nature of aggression and vulnerability. Unless a significant intervention is made, like the radical intervention of Jesus, this is what tends to happen: those of us who are as vulnerable as young rabbits will be gored, torn at, and thrown aside by those who would do so because it is in their nature. Only something extraordinarily disruptive could make any difference, and even then, a disruption as radical as Jesus had to be stopped. The question that remains for us everyday is whether we are willing to risk disrupting or not. It will always be a risk.

Kirsten Good interpretation, thank-you. This one can be applied to our own lives.
Feb 22, 2013 11:43AM

The weak will be tormented and given up to the strong.

The power and symbol of the mighty Roman Empire.

Serjeant Wildgoose (last edited Nov 06, 2013 11:35PM ) Nov 06, 2013 11:10PM   0 votes
It is in the bird's nature to gore and tear - so much more than merely sating its hunger it has an insatiable urge to kill. Is this man?

The cage prevents it from venting this urge upon the weak and helpless (rabbits/other men) and perhaps the fact that the cage is too small and cramps the bird is suggesting than man, too, is unnaturally confined by society's norms.

So who or what is the brute that so absent-mindedly serves the weak and helpless rabbits up to the eager talons of the bird? And what does it say of those spectators who stand by and do nothing?

If we accept Colm's caged bird as allegory, he isn't portraying mankind in a very good light.

That seems a good take. Because the bird is huge and that represents the blood thirsty and cruelty seeking crowd which can not be contained. Mary watches it doing nothing. Toibin wants to say same thing that Mary was at the site of Calvary and did nothing.

Diane (last edited Dec 29, 2013 10:10AM ) Dec 29, 2013 10:09AM   0 votes
In addition, I would consider what the man controlling the bird and rabbits means. With that in mind, the bird is a managed aggressor. I think that Toibin is asking us to consider if the man represents man being evil, i.e., the behavior of the Roman Empire, or if the man represents an image of a higher power which is not all benevolent, but is a usurper of free will. In my mind, he resonates with the notion that in fact we have no free will, but that God holds the cards as if they were lottery tickets only he gets to scratch off (e.g., God never gives us more than we can handle thinking). I don't think that Toibin is providing the reader with the image as an explanation, but with the questions that need to be pondered.

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