ALMOST HOME By MCKilney - Memories we Lost and Other Stories Study Guide

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Almost Home is an impassioned story of great warmth and humanity that manages to stay the right side of history. It puts a human face to one of the great challenges of our present time; terrorism and illegal migration.

 McKinley is from Ireland. His "Elysium Nevada' nominated Best New Play, Irish Theatre 2010. He written for BBC Radio and RTE. His most recent work, Crusader, " was staged in Dublin, 2013. His story, Almost he second prize in he Bath Short Story Award.


We meet Ali aboard A ship in Ireland, ready to be ferried deported to Morocco. The events shift to France aboard a vehicie. Ali tries to escape from Slattery and Tarrant. From Franz go through Spain and take a ferry that that they are to use take them to Tangier in Morocco.

Ali is in a ship with Slattery and Tarrant who are tasked with deporting Ali from Ireland to Tangier Morocco. Ali is an illegal immigrant in Ireland. Ali tells people that he is a medic student and has his face book showing a picture of him, an eager young man standing outside the college of surgeons with a bend of books; two of which are telephone directories.

While in Ireland he works hard in order to meet his needs. He for two Egyptian brothers, slicing kebab meat, powercars, scrubs pots and wipes down tables.

Ali warned sternly by Tarrant to behave himself or else wifi them. 

Comes out clearly that the government has attempted twice to deport Ali by air, and on both occasions, Ali was disruptive and alarmed other passengers by claiming to be a terrorist with a bomb that he will use to blow up the plane.

He attempts to escape once more when they reach Salamanca in Spain. He request for a bathroom only to run away and jump under a moving trailer, endangering his life. He is caught by Tarrant, as he tries to hobble around a furniture van. He is tied with the plastic cuffs.

They take a ferry that is to take them to Tangier, Morocco. Just when they are almost arriving to their destination, Ali jumps off the ferry into the water and drowns.

Thematic Concerns

Illegal immigration

Ali Mahfouz is an illegal immigrant in Ireland. Ali migrates illegally from Morocco when he is seventeen years old. He lives in Georges street where he says its people were very kind to him. Ali lies to the people that he is a medical student; his facebook picture even shows him standing outside the college of surgeons holding two voluminous books which we learn that they were telephone directories. Ali makes many friends everywhere and instantly. These people give him gifts and allowed him to sleep on their sofas. Ali struggled so much to make it in Ireland. He did odd jobs there among them selling Christmas trees door to door. He does not want to go back home.

When a professor of Trinity College gives him two hundred Euros to buy a ticket to Tangier he buys an iPod instead. Many attempts also by the soldiers to deport him have been futile. Tarrant and Slattery are trying to deport him this one more time.

Resistance to deportation

Deportation is the eviction of foreign persons back to their countries. Tarrant and Slattery are soldiers who are here to deport Ali but Ali shows resistance because he doesn't want to go back and is determined to make it Ireland.

We learn that a university professor earlier gives him two Euros but he buys himself an iPod instead. Tarrant explains to woman at the service station that they have tried to deport Ali twice by air but he has been disruptive and he alarmed the passengers by shouting that he was a terrorist and that he blow the plane by a bomb that he had.

Ali tries to escape Tarrant and Slattery at the service station. Rushes to the French woman and pleads with her to save him from abductors but when Slattery explains things to her she understands and Ali is taken back to the car.

In on other attempt to resist deportation Ali dangerously ducks under a moving trailer barely dodging the moving wheels but finds himself on Tarrant's fists on the other side. When they see Tangier harb finally Slattery pats Ali on the shoulder and tells him " Almost home

Ali knows that he would reach home without doubt despite all effort to escape. He thinks about three years in prison and suffering that his mother and sisters would go through in order save him from being eaten alive in iail. Ali therefore makes dangerous decision; to jump into the sea just to resist deportation.

Poverty and lack of job opportunities

Ali's mother and sisters live in cramped apartments in Beni Makac

This indicates that they are poor. Ali also says that they had rais the two thousand Euros to spirit him out of the country with difficul but he had not paid them even a cent. This was in an attempt for Ali to get opportunities in the Ireland but he was deported with anything and to top it all he would have to go to jail. This shame a fear causes him to jump into the sea.

Characters and Characterization

Ali Mahfouz

Deceitful: he tells people that he is a medical student and even puts a picture on facebook that shows him at the surgeons' college with college books yet the books are only telephone directories. He only does menial jobs in Ireland. In addition he walks with little white buds in his ears as if he is listening to music from the iPod yet he doesn't even know how to load the gadget with music.

Hardworking: Ali does all kinds of jobs in Ireland to cater for his upkeep. For instance he slices kebab meat; while working for two Egyptian brothers, also he power-washes cars, scrubs pots and wipes tables.

Sociable: He makes many friends when he just arrives in Ireland. He is quite charming and makes Slattery to laugh all the time despite being in a serious situation.

Stubborn: He has been warned by Tarrant not to cause any problem while they travel yet he attempts to escape twice. Furthermore, the government has tried to deport him twice, where every time he is disruptive on the plane threatening of blowing up the plane with a bomb in his possession. Despite all these he still lives in Ireland.

Sarcastic: Tells Slattery and Tarrant that they are travelling in style and that they are on a mighty journey yet he is being deported.

Determined: He attempts all means to prevent his deportation. He threatens to blow up the plane twice; he attempts to escape from Slattery and Tarrant in France and Spain. As last resort he decides to drown himself in water provided it is away to escape from being deported.

Observant: He is keen enough to note that Slattery has good Fre. Ali also notes that Slattery has no wedding band despite him being in mid-thirties and handsome.

Disillusioned: Ali loses hope with life in his country because of poverty such that his family is cramped together in the apartment, then imagines of life in prison, lack of food, clothing and having to pay bribes. This shame and fear causes him to jump into the sea.


Jovial: He is charming and laughs all the time when Ali cracks jokes.

Tactful: He manipulatively talks the French woman out of her thinking of helping Ali. He manages to convince her that any interference will mean they — Slattery and Tarrant will leave Ali to be the responsibility of the French government.


Aggressive: He blocks Ali into a corner before barking orders to him, and threatens to smack him if he tries any nonsense. When Ali attempts to escape in Spain, he hits him to the

Serious: He does not get involved in laughter when Ali cracks jokes that leave Slattery in stitches. He remains stony faced as strict: orders Ali to go back where they were when Ali runs.

Language Styles


The author uses personification a great deal in this story. This is very effective because we get a clear description of events. In the first paragraph, it is said that the Oscar Wilde ferry rested in the Welford harbor. Resting being a human attribute has been given to the ferry.

Other examples include; The room hummed as the turbine span. The sound of the ship as it moves becomes very clear here, humming. The tiny fish seemed inquisitive. Inquisitive is also a human attribute given to fish to make the description clear.


Dialogue has also been exploited by the author to make the story more real and to break the monotony. There is a dialogue also between Tarrant, Ali and Slattery also with the woman at the service station. In some of the dialogue made we learn about the character traits of the soldiers being tough and Ali being defiant and sarcastic.


Moroccan rain is metaphorically to have the light touch of a tiny baby's fingers but Irish rain was a smack from an open hand, watery assault. Tarrant's fists are said to be wall made of bone and skin.

All compares Ireland to a man. Ireland is like a man who invites people to his house for a feast and then discovers he doesn't have enough food. The ferry is said to cut the Mediterranean Sea like scissors. Tk shadow cast by the boat looked a dark cloud on a grey sky. All the metaphors have been used effectively. They show us the actions more vividly.

Use of sub standard English and other languages

Ali knows how to speak standard English but he uses broken English to annoy the soldiers and also in his attempt to resist deportation he says; "I want say thank you Ireland"I have so happy in Ireland. Mm times happy, people good, weather good, guiness good.

There is also the use of French. Ali also uses so Irish expressions which are not Standard English; "Soft day, did your Mummy make any mort like you *


The title 'Almost Home' is symbolic. It symbolizes death. It is believed that Ali did not go back home as he should have, but he dies in the sea when he drowns himself. Ali talks of a man who invites people to his house for a feast and when he discovers that he doesn't have enough food he tries to hide his anger and humiliation by shouting, cursing and forcing them out into the night. This man symbolizes Ireland because they allow illegal immigrants to come and stay in the country then hunts them down in order to deport them. The different two types of rains in the two countries symbolize their different challenges to survival as Ali says it is easy in Morocco than in Ireland.

Revision questions

  1. Poverty and lack of employment largely contribute to illegal migration. Discuss
  2. Immigration is nobody's best choice. Why?
  3. Compare and contrast the character traits of Slattery and Tarrant.
  4. Discuss the traits of All as brought out in this story.
  5. What factors contribute to people migrating illegally to other countries?
  6. Dialogue has played a key role in character and plot development in the story. Discuss.
  7. Disillusionment is detrimental to human living. Discuss
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