By Jack Morgan, Louis A. Renza, Sarah Orne Jewett
In their introduction, editors Jack Morgan and Louis A. Renza point out that in these stories Jewett displayed a remarkable empathy for the Irish. Undoing the "Paddy" stereotype favored in nineteenth-century Yankee discourse, Jewett exhibited an understanding of the immigrant psyche unheard of among her fellow writers - including Emerson and Thoreau, both of whom wrote disdainfully of the Irish. Morgan and Renza further discuss the stories in the context of contemporary multicultural and ethnic concerns, showing that Jewett's Irish stories demonstrate a renewal - a redefining, questioning, and expanding of cultural boundaries within concentrated American communities, her own New England area in particular. As such, the editors contend, the stories constitute important documents in the history of a country still engaged with the multi-ethnic as well as the multi-individual paradox of E pluribus unum.