The theme gossip vs. truth is prevalent in “The Sisters”. In this story Father Flynn dies and his legacy is made by the gossip and talk of others, not of his actions and what he thought of himself. The story starts with the protagonist describing an instance of the Old Cotter in his house. The Old Cotter speaks of Father Flynn negatively. He says he was one of those “peculiar cases” and that he “wouldn’t like children of mine […] to have much to say to a man like that” (2). The narrator becomes infuriated at Old Cotter but buries his anger inside of him. Old Cotter frowns upon the narrator having a relationship with the late Father Flynn. It is unknown what Old Cotter knows of Father Flynn that make him have these negative feelings, but these feelings of him contribute to the father’s legacy.
Another theme in “The Sisters” is action vs. inaction. The narrator faces both the Old Cotter and Eliza speaking of Father Flynn in ways he does not agree with. Yet, the narrator takes no action against this. The narrator buries his anger when he hears Old Cotter disgracing his relationship with Father Flynn, “I crammed my mouth with stirabout for fear I might give utterance to my anger. Tiresome old red-nosed imbecile” (3). Also the narrator feels a paralysis after the death of Father Flynn. He can only think of the word paralysis when he passes the Father’s window. Also, the narrator does not act here when he simply passes the house even those he longs to go inside to see the Father. The narrator’s inaction contrasts with Father Flynn’s action. Father Flynn shows his feelings through breaking the chalice and spending his time in the church “wide awake and laughing-like to himself” (11). This shows that action may be related to death whereas inaction is necessary to staying alive in this society.