Trevor’s narrator. The Middletons lived away from town,

Trevor’s story the distant past speaks
about cultural encounters between people within the same community and its
relation to religion, politics, and time change which changes tenets and human
temperaments. He displays all those differences that exist around the world
especially in Ireland and display it in a short story about simple people with
different backgrounds although they share the same land (the town), which
reflects the level of awareness that he had toward history and toward the
different elements in history and how he shapes characters and circumstances.

The narrator of the story is a limited
third- person narrator. The Middletons lived away from town, Trevor
deliberately tries to make them out casters to highlight the differences
between the people who lived in town and them in various aspects like different
religious, political and philosophical beliefs, however, and they were still
respected as members of the society.

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William Trevor deals with two periods in
the Irish history time 1921 the Irish war for independence and the troubles times
between 1960 and 1971, therefore, the distant past moves between two
generations the Middleton’s father then his daughter and son, the towner locked
the Middletons during the time of troubles because they were unionist and the
people believed that the British army would come and get them out, but they did
not. The Middleton’s stayed in the Catholic town while they were Protestant and
became respectable members of the society even though the people believed that
they were peculiar. The Middletons stated their beliefs publically about the
new political regime which is represented by the republic in some kind of
enmity, but they were tolerated and lived peacefully with others until the time
of troubles, where their behaviors and opinions that seemed peculiar and
sometimes funny were not anymore because it revives what happened previously
and let us not forget that the little town had no profitable economic income
because the tourism stopped which fueled anger among the inhabitants. That
combination of events illuminates what the writer had lived and how he himself views
the distant past. (www.is.muni.cz)

The siblings lived in Carraveagh for a long
time, but it was built in the seventeenth century and it is sixty miles away
from the border of Northern Ireland. Their loyalty to the past is manifested in
the arrogance they show toward the history after the new regime and believed that
the new regime will end, but time proved them wrong. The cross of St. George,
their father portrait, the way they rise on their feet when the BBC play god
save the queen and the ride to town on Elizabeth the second coronation day in
their ford Angelia with a small union jack appeared at the back of their car
reveal that they were still loyal and holding on to memories from the distant
past. The father mortgaged the house because he spent his money on a Catholic
Dublin woman whom they believed to be unworthy and blamed her for the decline
in their economic situation after 1921. This represented the decline of their
ascendant financial status after 1921, however, they still behave with superiority
toward the way they were brought up, and consequently toward others. This indicates
that they are conscious about the differences they saw in other people in contrast
with themselves, on the other side the people also realized these contrasts and
thought that they were peculiar and funny treated them with tolerance until the
troubles for example when Mr. Healy mentioned the event of blowing up the
sub-post offices and the Middleton told Mr. Carnely and Mr. Healy that they do
not want anything to do with it in the first place.(ibid)

The Friday and Sunday visits to purchase
goods or to pray represent the change of the town as in grocery store ,the
hotel, and the tourism, it also reflects changes in people, the butcher who
grew old and would like to retire, the Middleton’s dog who grew old and die represented
fellowship even their entrenched beliefs changed overtime and they were
considered as an anachronism or absurd, for instance the new reverend Bradshaw
considered them to be silly, furthermore in some points the distant past speaks
about the cultural encounter between generations starting with the Middletons
themselves and tourist ending up with the youngsters in the town like the
reverend, moreover, the story speaks loud about how people react to cultural
encounter either by tolerance or violence and those visits explained how
behaviors considered being acceptable at some period of time will not be anymore,
which is reflected in Middleton’s removal of symbols that represent their
temperament and expectations.

 The
constant analogy between the past and the present and traveling forward and
backward in the story helped the reader to understand and may sympathize with
the Middleton at the end of the story. It also reflects the emergence of new cultures
and how old cultures could be revived and relived in certain circumstances at
certain times and how people could change from enemies to friends and vice
versa reflecting the nature of the human being and how he is constructed by the
inner and outer effects which have a great ramification on our present and
past.

William Trevor in his distant past gave a
voice and a space to speak about what he lived, saw, and felt in a part of the
Irish history and relived it again through the loneliness, sadness and hopes of
his characters and allow the curtains of his imagination to open up trying to
make us feel what he wants to say through the course of the story.