58 pages 1 hour read

Morley Callaghan

All the Years of Her Life

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1936

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Character Analysis

Alfred Higgins

Callaghan does not offer much in terms of Alfred Higgins’s physical description, and it is unclear if he is a teenager or in his early twenties. The only hint toward Alfred’s age and appearance appears when Mrs. Higgins says, “He looks a big fellow, doesn’t he? It takes some of them a long time to get any sense” (18); in this moment, Alfred uncomfortably shifts away, causing light to “shine for a moment on his thin face and the tiny pimples over his cheekbone” (18). More important is the psychological profile that his mother’s remark helps to flesh out. Alfred’s repeated destructive behavior indicates carelessness and immaturity for his age, whatever it actually is.

Neither Callaghan’s narrator nor any of the story’s characters offer details concerning the types of trouble Alfred has been in with his earlier employers. Yet the depth of Alfred’s immaturity begins to take shape early in the narrative—specifically, when Mr. Carr accuses him of shoplifting. Despite his rising fear, Alfred turns red and knows “that he looked fierce with indignation” (17). Callaghan’s narrator registers Alfred’s awareness of his appearance of “indignation.” This detail highlights a performative aspect of Alfred’s denial—a denial of his fear as well as a denial of Mr.

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Plot Summary


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