Although the Irish War of Independence did not officially start until 1919, factions of Irish men and women had been fighting for the right to govern themselves since the bloody Easter Uprising of 1916. Guests of a Nation takes place in the spring of 1921. In a secluded Irish farmhouse live Bonaparte, Noble, Belcher, and Hawkins. During the day, the four sit in the common room. Hawkins and Noble, with their outgoing personalities and mutual naïveté, bond quickly and laugh easily. They spend most of their time swapping stories and debating religion. Bonaparte reads the newspaper and listens fondly to his young cousin’s arguments with Hawkins. Off to the side, Belcher, the oldest member of the group, hardened by his experiences during World War I, prefers to read his book and keep to himself. At night, the four men gather around the table to play cards, betting cigarettes and what little coin they have. Under the warm glow of oil lamps and constant jesting, the men seem like close friends. Yet, every night after cards, Irishmen Bonaparte and Noble lock their captives, Englishmen Hawkins and Belcher, in their room, lest they escape their prison. Every evening, Bonaparte walks a distance away from the comforting farmhouse to meet with Donovan, his commanding officer in the local IRA Brigade. Embittered by Ireland’s ongoing struggle and losses suffered at the hands of the British, Donovan usually has little to say. One evening, however, he tells Bonaparte that captured Irish soldiers were executed by English forces. Belcher and Hawkins, Donovan demands, must pay the price. Bonaparte must choose whether he will betray his comrades and suffer the consequences or sentence his new friends to their deaths.