Two In One By Obrien

Two In One By O`Brien To believe, or not to believe, that is the question. O’Brien asks us to believe an astonishing story which is almost too marvelous to believe. O’Brien himself declares how unusual this tale is when stating in the first sentence, “The story I have to tell is a strange one, perhaps unbelievable (156).” Do we as readers trust O’Brien’s testimony, or question its credibility? Does our variable trust and this story make us, the readers, dislike or even detest the author, or do we award him for it? Murphy, I believe, is a very sharp and somewhat brilliant individual hidden as your everyday taxidermist. The first misconception is that of his occupation. It is shown that taxidermy is far more explicit work than known when described in the quote, “The word [taxidermist] is ugly and inadequate. Certainly it does not convey to the layman that such an operator must combine the qualities of zoologist, naturalist, chemist, sculptor, artist, and carpenter (156).” Murphy himself is quite intelligent also, more it seems than anyone else knows, especially Kelly. Even when Murphy displays this intelligence Kelly still reprimands him and calls him ugly names. This is best described when Murphy and Kelly we fighting about the Manx cat. Murphy knew that it was a Manx cat and Kelly yelled at him and questioned his intelligence. Murphy got so angry that he began, “mentioning the distinctions as between felis manul, felis sivertris, and felis lybica and on the unique structure of the Manx cat (157).” Kelly replies to that is calling Murphy a slob.

Murphy’s is unrecognized as an intelligent, and that is what scares me. Since the narrator of the story is Murphy, and it seems that Murphy (even though I know it is O’Brien) is writing the story from, “the condemned [prison] cell (156),” I am then scared by the author. But, then again, I like to be scared. The only thing that upset me about the story, and made me like the author less, was the fact that it turned out to be unbelievable. I was believing the story so much (although I am aware that the story is fictitious) until the comment by Murphy, “I would don his skin, and when need arose, BECOME Kelly (158)!” This was so unbelievable it reminded me of an action/adventure movie called Face Off.

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I was enjoying the story so much when it was a normal story, but now I found myself enjoying it even more with its strangeness! I especially enjoyed when, “It wouldn’t come off [Kelly’s skin]! It had literally fused with my own! And in the days that followed, this process kept rapidly advancing. Kelly’s skin got to live again, to breathe, to perspire (158).” Although I was somewhat angry with the author changing the stories believability, it turned out to be for the better. When I finished the story I came to find that I enjoyed it the most when the story was unbelievable! I now find that I enjoyed it even more because I realized that O’Brien never intended for us to believe this story, but in fact not believe it! That is most likely why he warned us with his first sentence of the story. I conclude that at first I was not pleased with “Two in One” and it’s unbelievable ways, but then decided to enjoy the fun that the brilliant author Flann O’Brien intended. Bibliography O’Brien, Flann.

“Two in One.” Literature. Ed. X. J. Kennedy. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1987. 106-116.


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