After Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Isaac

This study guide will help you analyse the text “After Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Isaac” by Rachel Cusk. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, themes and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “After Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Isaac”
Author: Rachel Cusk
Published in: Best of Young British Novelists 2003
Date of Publication: 2003
Genre: Short story

Rachel Cusk (b. 1967) is a Canadian writer who currently lives in the UK.  She is the author of three non-fiction books, eight novels, and various short stories. Cusk’s literary talent has been acknowledged through various awards.


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The title of the short story, “After Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Isaac”, is a reference to a painting by Renaissance artist Caravaggio. The painting illustrates the Biblical scene in which Abraham is about to sacrifice his son Isaac to God and an angel stops him. The title is symbolic for the story’s plot, as the narrator comes close to sacrificing his relationship with his son Ian, to prove his love for another woman. Just as Abraham was stopped by an angel sent by God, the narrator is willing to go through with his plan, but he is prevented by the woman who asked him to leave his son in the first place.


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After Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Isaac

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