Much has been written about the manner in which Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy explores Irish identity on the island of Ireland. This essay examines the novel from an international perspective, paying particular attention to the novel's transatlantic imagery and its intertextual relationship with Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Kirwan argues that McCabe locates Ireland in a global context, and does so in order to deconstruct notions of a quaint or insular Irishness, to examine stories concerning Irish marginality in the United States, and to interrogate overlapping narratives of nation and identity that connect Ireland and America.

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