Themes - Relationships

‘Hieroglyphics’ explores the emotional impact that relationships have.

Mary has the misfortune of experiencing various relationships that have a negative effect on her:

  • the failings of her teachers affect her academic progress
  • her abandonment by her peers isolates her socially

These relationships create challenges for Mary and highlight, like in other stories by Donovan, the challenges of growing up.

Like in ‘Dear Santa’, ‘Hieroglyphics’ is a story that captures the challenges that family relationships can face as children grow up. Though Mary’s mother is a source of support to her in a social and personal sense, Mary thinks that her mother considers her to be daft.

Although family relationships can be complex, their ultimate importance is symbolised by Mary’s composition to Mr Kelly’s task. Mary thinks to herself that:

ah hink if ah’d asked her, ma mammy wid say we are her three best hings; Catherine and Elizabeth and me.

This moment shows the importance of a child’s relationship with parents, something we also see in ‘All that Glisters’.