Dubliners by James Joyce

James Joyce was born into a middle-class, Catholic family in Rathgar, a suburb of Dublin, on February 2,
1882. he family!s "ros"erity dwindled soon after Joyce!s birth, forcing them to mo#e from their
comfortable home to the unfashionable and im"o#erished area of $orth Dublin. $onetheless, Joyce
attended a "restigious Jesuit school and went on to study "hiloso"hy and languages at %ni#ersity College,
Dublin. &e mo#ed to 'aris after graduation in 1()2 to "ursue medical school, but instead he turned his
attention to writing. *n 1()+ he returned to Dublin, where he met his future wife, $ora ,arnacle, the
following year. From then on, Joyce made his home in other countries. From 1()- to 1(1- he and $ora
li#ed in Rome and rieste, *taly, and from 1(1- to 1(1( they li#ed in .urich, /wit0erland. ,etween 1orld
1ar * and 1orld 1ar **, they li#ed in 'aris. hey returned to .urich in 1(2), where Joyce died in 1(21.
*n 1()3, at the age of twenty-fi#e, Joyce "ublished Chamber 4usic, a collection of "oetry. 're#iously,
he!d also written a short-story collection, Dubliners, which was "ublished in 1(12. hough Joyce had
written the boo5 years earlier, the stories contained characters and e#ents that were alarmingly similar to
real "eo"le and "laces, raising concerns about libel. Joyce indeed based many of the characters in
Dubliners on real "eo"le, and such suggesti#e details, cou"led with the boo5!s historical and geogra"hical
"recision and "iercing e6amination of relationshi"s, flustered an6ious "ublishers. Joyce!s
autobiogra"hical no#el 7 'ortrait of the 7rtist as a 8oung 4an followed Dubliners in 1(19, and a "lay,
:6iles, followed in 1(18. Joyce is most famous for his later e6"erimental no#els, %lysses ;1(22<, which
ma"s the Dublin wanderings of its "rotagonist in a single day, and Finnegans 1a5e ;1(+(<. hese two
wor5s emblemati0e his signature stream-of-consciousness "rose style, which mirrors characters! thoughts
without the limitations of traditional narrati#e, a style he didn!t use in Dubliners.
*reland "ermeates all of Joyce!s writing, es"ecially *reland during the tumultuous early twentieth century.
he "olitical scene at that time was uncertain but ho"eful, as *reland sought inde"endence from =reat
,ritain. he nationalist Charles /tewart 'arnell, who became acti#e in the 183)s, had rein#igorated *rish
"olitics with his "ro"osed &ome Rule ,ill, which aimed to gi#e *reland a greater #oice in ,ritish
go#ernment. 'arnell, dubbed the >%ncrowned ?ing of *reland,@ was hugely "o"ular in *reland, both for
his anti-:nglish #iews and his su""ort of land ownershi" for farmers. *n 188(, howe#er, his "olitical
career colla"sed when his adulterous affair with the married ?itty A!/hea was made "ublic. ?itty!s
husband had 5nown for years about the affair, but instead of ma5ing it "ublic, he attem"ted to use it to his
"olitical and financial ad#antage. &e waited until he filed for di#orce to e6"ose the affair. ,oth *reland
and :ngland were scandali0ed, 'arnell refused to resign, and his career ne#er reco#ered. 'arnell died in
18(1, when Joyce was nine years old.
*n the last "art of the nineteenth century, after 'arnell!s death, *reland underwent a dramatic cultural
re#i#al. *rish citi0ens struggled to define what it meant to be *rish, and a mo#ement began to rein#igorate
*rish language and culture. he mo#ement celebrated *rish literature and encouraged "eo"le to learn the
*rish language, which many "eo"le were forgoing in fa#or of the more modern :nglish language.
%ltimately, the cultural re#i#al of the late nineteenth century ga#e the *rish a greater sense of "ride in their
Des"ite the cultural re#i#al, the bitter "ublicity surrounding 'arnell!s affair, and later his death, dashed all
ho"es of *rish inde"endence and unity. *reland s"lintered into factions of 'rotestants and Catholics,
Conser#ati#es and $ationalists. /uch social forces form a com"le6 conte6t for Joyce!s writing, which
re"eatedly ta"s into "olitical and religious matters. /ince Joyce s"ent little of his later life in *reland, he
did not witness such debates firsthand. &owe#er, des"ite li#ing on the continent, Joyce retained his
artistic interest in the city and country of his birth and ably articulated the *rish e6"erience in his writings.
Dubliners contains fifteen "ortraits of life in the *rish ca"ital. Joyce focuses on children and adults who
s5irt the middle class, such as housemaids, office cler5s, music teachers, students, sho" girls, swindlers,
and out-of-luc5 businessmen. Joyce en#isioned his collection as a loo5ing glass with which the *rish
could obser#e and study themsel#es. *n most of the stories, Joyce uses a detached but highly "erce"ti#e
narrati#e #oice that dis"lays these li#es to the reader in "recise detail. Rather than "resent intricate dramas
with com"le6 "lots, these stories s5etch daily situations in which not much seems to ha""enBa boy #isits
a ba0aar, a woman buys sweets for holiday festi#ities, a man reunites with an old friend o#er a few drin5s.
hough these e#ents may not a""ear "rofound, the characters! intensely "ersonal and often tragic
re#elations certainly are. he stories in Dubliners "eer into the homes, hearts, and minds of "eo"le whose
li#es connect and intermingle through the shared s"ace and s"irit of Dublin. 7 character from one story
will mention the name of a character in another story, and stories often ha#e settings that a""ear in other
stories. /uch subtle connections create a sense of shared e6"erience and e#o5e a ma" of Dublin life that
Joyce would return to again and again in his later wor5s.
>he /isters@
7 boy gra""les with the death of a "riest, Father Flynn. 1ith his aunt, the boy #iews the cor"se and #isits
with the "riest!s mourning sisters. 7s the boy listens, the sisters e6"lain Father Flynn!s death to the aunt
and share thoughts about Father Flynn!s increasingly strange beha#ior.
>7n :ncounter@
Fed u" with the restraints of school and ins"ired by ad#enture stories, two boys s5i" their classes to
e6"lore Dublin. 7fter wal5ing around the city for a while, the unnamed narrator and his friend, 4ahony,
e#entually rest in a field. 7 strange old man a""roaches and tal5s to them, and his se6ual innuendos ma5e
the narrator uncomfortable. %ltimately, the narrator and 4ahony manage to esca"e.
7 young boy falls in lo#e with his neighbor 4angan!s sister. &e s"ends his time watching her from his
house or thin5ing about her. &e and the girl finally tal5, and she suggests that he #isit a ba0aar called
7raby, which she cannot attend. he boy "lans to go and "urchase something for the girl, but he arri#es
late and buys nothing.
7 young woman, :#eline, sits in her house and re#iews her decision to elo"e with her lo#er, Fran5, to
7rgentina. :#eline wonders if she has made the correct choice to lea#e her home and family. 7s the
moment of de"arture a""roaches, she reaffirms her decision, but changes her mind at the doc5s and
abandons Fran5.
>7fter the Race@
Jimmy Doyle s"ends an e#ening and night with his well-connected foreign friends after watching a car
race outside of Dublin. %"on returning to the city, they meet for a fancy meal and then s"end hours
drin5ing, dancing, and "laying card games. *nto6icated and infatuated with the wealth and "restige of his
com"anions, Jimmy ends the celebrations bro5e.
>wo =allants@
Cenehan and Corley wal5 through Dublin and discuss their "lot to swindle a housemaid who wor5s at a
wealthy residence. Corley meets with the girl while Cenehan drifts through the city and eats a chea" meal.
Cater in the night Cenehan goes to the residence as "lanned and sees the girl retrie#e something from the
house for Corley. Finally Corley re#eals to Cenehan that she "rocured a gold coin for him.
>he ,oarding &ouse@
*n the boarding house that she runs, 4rs. 4ooney obser#es the courtshi" between her daughter, 'olly, and
a tenant, 4r. Doran. 4rs. 4ooney intercedes only when she 5nows 4r. Doran must "ro"ose to 'olly, and
she schedules a meeting with 4r. Doran to discuss his intentions. 4r. Doran an6iously antici"ates the
con#ersation and the "otential lifestyle change that awaits him. &e resol#es that he must marry 'olly.
>7 Cittle Cloud@
Ane e#ening after wor5 Cittle Chandler reunites with his old friend, =allaher. Cittle Chandler as"ires to
be a "oet, and hearing about =allaher!s career in Condon ma5es Cittle Chandler en#ious and determined
to change his life. Cittle Chandler imagines freedom from his wife and child, but he feels ashamed about
his thoughts and acce"ts his situation.
7fter an infuriating day at wor5, Farrington embar5s on an e#ening of drin5ing with his friends. :#en
though Farrington "awns his watch to re"lenish his em"ty wallet, he finds himself s"ending all of his
money on drin5s for himself and his com"anions. =rowing more and more frustrated, Farrington almost
e6"lodes when he loses an arm-wrestling match. 7t home later that night, Farrington #ents his anger by
beating his son.
An &alloween night, 4aria o#ersees festi#ities at the charity where she wor5s. 7fterward, she tra#els to
the home of Joe Donnelly, whom she nursed when he was a boy. 7long the way 4aria "urchases sweets
and ca5es for Joe!s family. 1hen she arri#es at the house, she reali0es she has somehow lost the s"ecial
"lum ca5e she!d bought. 7fter tal5ing, eating, and "laying &alloween games, 4aria sings a song for the
>7 'ainful Case@
4r. Duffy de#elo"s a relationshi" with 4rs. /inico at a concert in Dublin. he two meet often for long
chats and become close, but 4r. Duffy cuts off the relationshi" when 4rs. /inico ma5es the intimate but
chaste gesture of ta5ing 4r. Duffy!s hand and "utting it against her chee5. Four years later, 4r. Duffy
reads in a news"a"er that 4rs. /inico has died in a train accident. &e feels angry, sad, and uneasy as he
remembers her, and he finally reali0es he lost "erha"s his only chance for lo#e.
>*#y Day in the Committee Room@
7 grou" of men wor5ing as street "romoters for a mayoral candidate meet to discuss their Dobs and esca"e
from the rainy weather on *#y Day, which commemorates the death of Charles /tuart 'arnell, the
influential *rish "olitician. he men com"lain about their late "aychec5s and debate "olitics. Con#ersation
e#entually turns to 'arnell and his "olitical endea#ors, and one of the men, &ynes, recites a "oem he
wrote in memory of him.
>7 4other@
7n *rish cultural society organi0es a concert series with the hel" of 4rs. ?earney, the mother of one of
the "erformers. 4rs. ?earney secures a contract with the society!s secretary, 4r. &olohan, so that her
daughter is ensured "ayment for her "iano accom"animent. 7 series of logistical changes and failed
e6"ectations infuriate 4rs. ?earney, and she hounds the officers of the society for the money, ma5ing a
s"ectacle of herself and her daughter.
7fter an embarrassing "ublic accident, om ?ernan is con#inced by his friends to attend a Catholic
retreat. he men ho"e that this e#ent will hel" 4r. ?ernan reform his "roblematic, alcoholic lifestyle. 7t
the ser#ice, the "residing "riest "reaches about the need for the admission of sins and the ability of all
"eo"le to attain forgi#eness through =od!s grace.
>he Dead@
1ith his wife, =retta, =abriel Conroy attends the annual dancing "arty hosted by his two aging aunts,
Julia and ?ate 4or5an, and their niece, 4ary Jane. 7t the "arty, =abriel e6"eriences some uncomfortable
confrontations. &e ma5es a "ersonal comment to Cily, the housemaid, that "ro#o5es a shar" re"ly, and
during a dance he endures the taunts of his "artner, 4iss *#ors. Finally, =abriel sees =retta enra"tured by
a song sung toward the end of the "arty. Cater, he learns that she was thin5ing of a former lo#er who had
died for her. &e sadly contem"lates his life.
Character list
>he /isters@
>he /isters@ narrator - he reser#ed and contem"lati#e boy who deals with the death of his friend,
Father Flynn. he narrator a#oids showing outward emotions to his family members, but he de#otes his
thoughts to the "riest!s memory. Athers in the story see the narrator!s relationshi" with the "riest as
ina""ro"riate and e6"loitati#e, and the narrator himself seems unsure of what the "riest meant to him.
Father Flynn - he "riest who dies in >he /isters.@ Father Flynn!s ambiguous "resence in the story as a
"otential child molester initiates a boo5-long critiEue of religious leaders, consistently "ortraying them as
Ald Cotter - he family friend in >he /isters@ who informs the narrator of Father Flynn!s death. Ald
Cotter #oices concern about the "riest!s intentions with the narrator, but he a#oids ma5ing any direct
>7n :ncounter@
>7n :ncounter@ narrator - he young boy who endures an aw5ward con#ersation with a "er#erted old
man while s5i""ing school. ,ored with the drudgery of lessons, the narrator dreams of esca"e. 1hen
imaginary games fail to fulfill his yearning for ad#enture, he embar5s on a real one with his friend
4ahony by s5i""ing school and s"ending the day in Dublin, only to encounter fear.
4ahony - he narrator!s com"anion in >7n :ncounter.@ 1hen 4ahony and the narrator rest in a field, a
strange old man a""roaches them. 7t one "oint 4ahony runs aw ay after a cat, lea#ing the narrator and
the old man alone.
>7raby@ narrator - he amorous boy who de#otes himself to his neighbor 4angan!s sister. *mages and
thoughts of the girl subsume the narrator!s days, but when he finally s"ea5s to her it is brief and aw5ward.
1hen 4angan!s sister tells the narrator about a ba0aar called 7raby, the narrator decides to go there and
buy something for her. &owe#er, he arri#es at the ba0aar too late and buys nothing. he narrator
illustrates the Doys and frustrations of young lo#e. &is inability to "ursue his desires angers him.
4angan!s sister - he lo#e interest in >7raby.@ 4angan!s sister mentions the 7raby ba0aar to the
narrator, "rom"ting him to tra#el there. /he suggests the familiarity of Dublin, as well as the ho"e of lo#e
and the e6otic a""eal of new "laces.
:#eline - he "rotagonist of the story that shares her name. :#eline ma5es a bold and e6citing decision to
elo"e to 7rgentina with her lo#er, Fran5, but ultimately shrin5s away from it, e6cluding herself from lo#e.
&er constant re#iew of the "ros and cons of her decision demonstrates her willingness to "lease e#eryone
but herself, and her final resol#e to stay in Dublin with her family casts her as a woman tra""ed in
domestic and familiar duties and afraid to embrace the un"redictable.
>7fter the Race@
Jimmy Doyle - he u"wardly mobile "rotagonist of >7fter the Race.@ *nfatuated with the "restige of his
friends and giddy about his inclusion in such high-society circles, Jimmy conducts a life of facile whims
and e6cessi#e e6"enditure.
>wo =allants@
Cenehan - Ane half of the "air of swindlers in >wo =allants.@ Cenehan e6udes energy and e6haustion at
once. &e e6citedly "arta5es in the e6"loits of his friend Corley but also laments the aimlessness of his
hard li#ing and lac5 of stability. hough he yearns to settle down, he remains fi6ed to Corley!s side as the
stereoty"ical side5ic5.
Corley - he scheming friend of Cenehan in >wo =allants.@ Corley!s bul5y, asserti#e "hysical "resence
matches his grandiose bragging and incessant self-"romotion. 7 "olice informant and s5illed in ta5ing
ad#antage of women, Corley "ro#ides one of the most critical and unsym"athetic "ortraits of betrayal in
Dubliners when he du"es the housemaid into gi#ing him a gold coin.
>he ,oarding &ouse@
4rs. 4ooney - he "ro"rietor and mother from >he ,oarding &ouse.@ /e"arated from her husband and
the owner of a business, 4rs. 4ooney firmly go#erns her own life, as well as her daughter 'olly!s. &er
a""arently successful "lan to secure her daughter in a comfortable marriage ma5es her a morally
ambiguous character. /he demands eEual treatment for men and women but also mani"ulates
relationshi"s to rid herself of her daughter.
4r. Doran - he lo#er of 4rs. 4ooney!s daughter 'olly in >he ,oarding &ouse.@ 7 successful cler5,
4r. Doran fears his affair with the un"olished daughter will tarnish his re"utation and bemoans the
restraints of marriage, but he resol#es to marry her out of social necessity and fear.
>7 Cittle Cloud@
=allaher - Cittle Chandler!s old friend who #isits Dublin in >7 Cittle Cloud.@ For Cittle Chandler,
=allaher re"resents all that is enticing and desirableF success in :ngland, a writing career, foreign tra#el,
and laid-bac5 ease with women. &is gruff manners and forthright beha#ior contrast with Cittle Chandler!s
Cittle Chandler - he unha""y and fastidious cler5 who reunites with his friend =allaher in >7 Cittle
Cloud.@ Cittle Chandler!s "hysical attributes match his nameBhe is small, fragile, and delicately
groomed. &is tendency to su""ress his "oetic desires suggests that he also earns his title by li#ing Euietly
and without "assion. &e fleetingly rebels against his domestic life after hearing about =allaher!s e6citing
life, then shamefully re-embraces it.
Farrington - he burly and aggressi#e co"y cler5 and "rotagonist in >Counter"arts.@ 1ith his wine-red
face and fuming tem"er, Farrington mo#es through Dublin as a time bomb of rage. Farrington!s Dob
dooms him to unthin5ingly re"eat his actions, and he transfers his frustrations from one e6"erience to the
ne6t without discernment. &is outlets in life are drin5ing and fighting, a "hysical engagement with the
world that ty"ifies his lac5 of care and thought. Farrington!s son is one #ictim of his rage.
4r. 7lleyne - Farrington!s boss in >Counter"arts.@ :6as"erated by Farrington!s "oor wor5, 4r. 7lleyne
yells at and insults Farrington until Farrington embarrasses him in front of the office staff. &e ser#es
mainly to e6acerbate Farrington!s frustrations and fuel his anger.
4aria - he Euiet and "rim maid and "rotagonist from >Clay@ who goes to #isit Joe Donnelly, the man
she nursed when he was a boy. 4aria is "recise and dedicated to detail. /he mo#es through most of the
narrati#e with content satisfaction and laughter. &er ha""iness, howe#er, faces challenges in the smallest
of e#ents, and her dis"ro"ortionate reactions to small troubles suggest a remote detachment from life.
Joe Donnelly - he man 4aria #isits in >Clay.@ Joe!s brief a""earance in the story "ro#ides a bac5dro"
for 4aria!s own concerns. Ci5e her, he worries about mundane details, but he also hides a dee"er wound
that the story does not articulate. &e therefore ser#es as a sad figure of unha""iness.
>7 'ainful Case@
4r. Duffy - 7 solitary and obsessi#e man who eschews intimacy with 4rs. /inico in >7 'ainful Case.@
Disdainful of e6cess and tightly self-regulated, 4r. Duffy li#es according to mundane routine, and when a
relationshi" e#ol#es beyond his comfort le#el, he sEuelches it. &is remorse o#er 4rs. /inico!s death
ma5es him reali0e that his "ursuit of order and control has led only to loneliness. &e is one of the most
tragic "rotagonists of Dubliners.
4rs. /inico - 4r. Duffy!s com"anion in >7 'ainful Case.@ 7fter being shunned by him, 4rs. /inico
becomes an alcoholic and dies when she is hit by a train. /he once gras"ed 4r. Duffy!s hand and held it
to her chee5, and this small, affectionate gesture led to the end of their relationshi".
>*#y Day in the Committee Room@
4at A!Connor - Ane of the "olitical wor5ers from >*#y Day in the Committee Room.@ Guiet and
reser#ed, A!Connor "aces the men!s con#ersation by tem"ering conflict and "raise about the dead
"olitician 'arnell, but he shows little interest in his own "olitical wor5.
Joe &ynes - Reads the "oem about 'arnell in >*#y Day in the Committee Room.@ /ome of the men are
hesitant about his "resence in the room because &ynes is critical of the candidate for whom they wor5,
but &ynes ne#er wa#ers in his statements or #iews.
John &enchy - he eEui#ocating "olitical "romoter from >*#y Day in the Committee Room.@ &enchy
sus"ects e#eryone of betrayal. &e sus"ects his boss of shir5ing the men out of beer and "aychec5s, and he
sus"ects &ynes of informing the o""osing candidate. &owe#er, he is the most eEui#ocal figure in the
story and constantly changes his own #iews to suit the conte6t.
>7 4other@
4rs. ?earney - he commanding "rotagonist of >7 4other.@ Ane of the four female "rotagonists in
Dubliners, 4rs. ?earney is ambitious but also haughty. /he orchestrates her daughter!s u"bringing as an
e6em"lary "ro"onent of *rish culture and "oise, but she has trouble dealing with Dubliners of different
bac5grounds and any challenges to her authority.
4r. &olohan - he befuddled secretary who organi0es the musical concerts in >7 4other.@ 4r. &olohan
is the subDect of 4rs. ?earney!s abuse, and though he remains Euiet throughout the story, he is the only
character who resists and counters her critiEues.
om ?ernan - he out-of-luc5 businessman of >=race.@ 7fter a nasty, drun5en fall, ?ernan Doins his
friends in an attem"t to reform his life. &e remains silent about his accident, ne#er Euestioning the men
who were his com"anions that night. &is acce"ting attitude leads him to go along with his friends! "lan to
attend a Catholic retreat, but he ne#er ma5es an acti#e decision.
Jac5 'ower - ?ernan!s friend in >=race.@ 'ower rescues ?ernan after his accident and suggests the
Catholic retreat. 4r. 'ower!s dedication to ?ernan a""ears shallow des"ite his efforts to reform the man,
as he is acutely aware of ?ernan!s dwindling social status in com"arison to his own burgeoning career.
>he Dead@
=abriel Conroy - he "rotagonist from >he Dead.@ 7 uni#ersity-educated teacher and writer, =abriel
struggles with sim"le social situations and con#ersations, and straightforward Euestions catch him off
guard. &e feels out of "lace due to his highbrow literary endea#ors. &is aunts, Julia and ?ate 4or5an,
turn to him to "erform the traditionally male acti#ities of car#ing the goose and deli#ering a s"eech at
their annual celebration. =abriel re"resents a force of control in the story, but his wife =retta!s fond and
sad recollections of a former de#oted lo#er ma5e him reali0e he has little gras" on his life and that his
marriage lac5s true lo#e.
=retta Conroy - =abriel!s wife in >he Dead.@ =retta "lays a relati#ely minor role for most of the story,
until the conclusion where she is the focus of =abriel!s thoughts and actions. /he a""ears mournful and
distant when a s"ecial song is sung at the "arty, and she later "lunges into des"air when she tells =abriel
the story of her childhood lo#e, 4ichael Furey. &er "ure intentions and loyalty to this boy unner#e
=abriel and generate his des"airing thoughts about life and death.
Cily - he housemaid to the 4or5an sisters who rebu5es =abriel in >he Dead.@
4olly *#ors - he nationalist woman who teases =abriel during a dance in >he Dead.@
Julia 4or5an - Ane of the aging sisters who throw an annual dance "arty in >he Dead.@ Julia has a grey
and sullen a""earance that combines with her remote, wandering beha#ior to ma5e her a figure sa""ed of
?ate 4or5an - Ane of the aging sisters who throw an annual dance "arty in >he Dead.@ ?ate is
#i#acious but constantly worries about her sister, Julia, and the ha""iness of the guests.
4ichael Furey - =retta Conroy!s childhood lo#e in >he Dead@ who died for her long ago.
Analysis of Major Characters
=abriel Conroy, >he Dead@
=abriel is the last "rotagonist of Dubliners, and he embodies many of the traits introduced and e6"lored
in characters from earlier stories, including short tem"er, acute class consciousness, social aw5wardness,
and frustrated lo#e. =abriel has many faces. o his aging aunts, he is a lo#ing family man, bringing his
cheerful "resence to the "arty and "erforming ty"ically masculine duties such as car#ing the goose. 1ith
other female characters, such as 4iss *#ors, Cily the housemaid, and his wife, =retta, he is less able to
forge a connection, and his attem"ts often become aw5ward, and e#en offensi#e. 1ith 4iss *#ors, he
stumbles defensi#ely through a con#ersation about his "lans to go on a cycling tour, and he offends Cily
when he teases her about ha#ing a boyfriend. =retta ins"ires fondness and tenderness in him, but he
"rimarily feels mastery o#er her. /uch Eualities do not ma5e =abriel sym"athetic, but rather ma5e him an
e6am"le of a man whose inner life struggles to 5ee" "ace with and adDust to the world around him. he
4or5ans! "arty e6"oses =abriel as a social "erformer. &e carefully re#iews his thoughts and words, and
he flounders in situations where he cannot "redict another "erson!s feelings. =abriel!s unease with
unbridled feeling is "al"able, but he must face his discomfort throughout the story. &e illustrates the tense
intersection of social isolation and "ersonal confrontation.
=abriel has one moment of s"ontaneous, honest s"eech, rare in >he Dead@ as well as in Dubliners as a
whole. 1hen he dances with 4iss *#ors, she interrogates him about his "lans to tra#el in countries other
than *reland and as5s him why he won!t stay in *reland and learn more about his own country. *nstead of
re"lying with niceties, =abriel res"onds, >*!m sic5 of my own country, sic5 of itH@ &e is the sole character
in Dubliners to #oice his unha""iness with life in *reland. 1hile each story im"licitly or e6"licitly
connects the characters! hardshi"s to Dublin, =abriel "ronounces his sentiment clearly and without
remorse. his "urgati#e e6clamation highlights the symbolism of =abriel!s name, which he shares with
the angel who informed 4ary that she would be the mother of Christ in biblical history. =abriel deli#ers
his own message not only to 4iss *#ors but also to himself and to the readers of >he Dead.@ &e is the
unusual character in Dubliners who dwells on his own re#elation without su""ressing or reDecting it, and
who can "lace himself in a greater "ers"ecti#e. *n the final scene of the story, when he intensely
contem"lates the meaning of his life, =abriel has a #ision not only of his own tedious life but of his role
as a human.
:#eline, >:#eline@
orn between two e6treme o"tionsBunha""y domesticity or a dramatic esca"e to 7rgentina for marriage
B:#eline has no "ossibility of a moderately content life. &er dilemma does not illustrate indecisi#eness
but rather the lac5 of o"tions for someone in her "osition. An the doc5s, when she must ma5e a choice
once and for all, :#eline remembers her "romise to her mother to 5ee" the family together. /o close to
esca"e, :#eline re#ises her #iew of her life at home, remembering the small 5indnessesF her father!s
caring for her when she was sic5, a family "icnic before her mother died. hese memories o#ershadow
the reality of her abusi#e father and deadening Dob, and her sudden certainty comes as an e"i"hanyBshe
must remain with what is familiar. 1hen faced with the clear choice between ha""iness and unha""iness,
:#eline chooses unha""iness, which frightens her less than her intense emotions for Fran5. :#eline!s
nagging sense of family duty stems from her fear of lo#e and an un5nown life abroad, and her decision to
stay in Dublin renders her as Dust another figure in the crowd of Dubliners watching lo#ers and friends
de"art the city.
:#eline holds an im"ortant "lace in the o#erall narrati#e of Dubliners. &er story is the first in the
collection that uses third-"erson narration, the first in the collection to focus on a female "rotagonist, and
the only one in the collection that ta5es a character!s name as the title. :#eline is also the first central
adult character. For all of these reasons, she mar5s a crucial transition in the collectionF :#eline in many
ways is Dust another Dubliner, but she also broadens the "ers"ecti#e of Dubliners. &er story, rather than
being limited by the first-"erson narration of earlier stories, suggests something about the hardshi"s and
limitations of women in early twentieth-century Dublin in general. :#eline!s tortured decision about her
life also sets a tone of restraint and fear that resonates in many of the later stories. Ather female characters
in Dubliners e6"lore different harsh conditions of life in Dublin, but :#eline, in facing and reDecting a
life-altering decision, remains the most tragic.
Farrington, >Counter"arts@
Ane of the dar5est characters in Dubliners, Farrington rebels #iolently against his dull, routine life. &e
e6"eriences "araly0ing, mechanical re"etition day after day as a co"y cler5, and his mind-numbing tas5s
and uncom"romising boss cause rage to simmer inside him. 7fter the day in Euestion in >Counter"arts,@
the rage becomes so e6"losi#e that Farrington unleashes it on the most innocent figure in his world, one
of his children. he root of Farrington!s "roblem is his inability to reali0e the maddening circularity that
defines his days. Farrington has no boundaries between the different "arts of his worldF his wor5 life
mimics his social life and his family life. $o one "art of his life can ser#e as an esca"e from any other
"art because each element has the "otential to enrage him. Farrington consistently ma5es life worse for
himself, not better. &e sli"s away from wor5 as he "leases, insults his boss, and matter-of-factly "awns
his watch to buy alcohol. hough each small rebellion ma5es him momentarily ha""y, the dis"laced rage
sim"ly rea""ears some"lace else, usually e6acerbated by his actions. his lac5 of mindfulness about the
conseEuences of his actions s"ills o#er into Farrington!s anger, o#er which he a""ears to ha#e little or no
Farrington!s e6"losi#e #iolence sets him a"art from some of the other characters in Dubliners, who
oftenacce"t routine and boredom as facts of life and do little to u"set the balance of familiarity and calm
they!#e established. 4r. Duffy in >7 'ainful Case,@ for e6am"le, identifies so fully with his routines that
he cannot u"set them e#en for the chance of lo#e. :#eline, too, chooses her familiar routines instead of
lea"ing into the un5nown, e#en though those routines are far inferior to the "ossibilities before her.
Farrington!s insensiti#ity to the "eo"le around him also casts him as the o""osite of :#eline, whose
concern for what others will thin5 of her o#errides her own desires. 7s the brutal bully of Dubliners,
Farrington shows what can ha""en when a life consists "rimarily of mindless re"etitionF sooner or later
#iolence will surface, and those who witness or are subDect to the #iolence may themsel#es act #iolently
in the future.
>7raby@ narrator
he >7raby@ narrator!s e6"erience of lo#e mo#es him from "lacid youth to elation to frustrated loneliness
as he e6"lores the threshold between childhood and adulthood. Ci5e the narrator of >7n :ncounter,@ he
yearns to e6"erience new "laces and things, but he is also li5e :#eline and other adult characters who
gra""le with the conflict between e#eryday life and the "romise of lo#e. &e wants to see himself as an
adult, so he dismisses his distracting schoolwor5 as >child!s "lay@ and e6"resses his intense emotions in
dramatic, romantic gestures. &owe#er, his inability to acti#ely "ursue what he desires tra"s him in a
child!s world. &is dilemma suggests the ho"e of youth stymied by the una#oidable realities of Dublin life.
he >7raby@ narrator is the last of the first-"erson narrators in Dubliners, all of whom are young boys.
Themes, Motifs, and Symbols
hemes are the fundamental and often uni#ersal ideas e6"lored in a literary wor5.
he 'rison of Routine
Restricti#e routines and the re"etiti#e, mundane details of e#eryday life mar5 the li#es of Joyce!s
Dubliners and tra" them in circles of frustration, restraint, and #iolence. Routine affects characters who
face difficult "redicaments, but it also affects characters who ha#e little o"en conflict in their li#es. he
young boy of >7n :ncounter@ yearns for a res"ite from the rather innocent routine of school, only to find
himself sitting in a field listening to a man recycle disturbing thoughts. *n >Counter"arts,@ Farrington,
who ma5es a li#ing co"ying documents, demonstrates the dangerous "otential of re"etition. Farrington!s
wor5 mirrors his social and home life, causing his angerBand abusi#e beha#iorBto worsen. Farrington,
with his e6"losi#e "hysical reactions, illustrates more than any other character the brutal ramifications of
a re"etiti#e e6istence.
he most consistent conseEuences of following mundane routines are loneliness and unreEuited lo#e. *n
>7raby,@ a young boy wants to go to the ba0aar to buy a gift for the girl he lo#es, but he is late because
his uncle becomes mired in the routine of his wor5day. *n >7 'ainful Case@ 4r. Duffy!s obsession with
his "redictable life costs him a golden chance at lo#e. :#eline, in the story that shares her name, gi#es u"
her chance at lo#e by choosing her familiar life o#er an un5nown ad#enture, e#en though her familiar
routines are tinged with sadness and abuse. he circularity of these Dubliners! li#es effecti#ely tra"s
them, "re#enting them from being rece"ti#e to new e6"eriences and ha""iness.
he Desire for :sca"e
he characters in Dubliners may be citi0ens of the *rish ca"ital, but many of them long for esca"e and
ad#enture in other countries. /uch longings, howe#er, are ne#er actually reali0ed by the stories!
"rotagonists. he schoolboy yearning for esca"e and 1ild 1est e6citement in >7n :ncounter@ is
relegated to the imagination and to the confines of Dublin, while :#eline!s ho"es for a new life in
7rgentina dissol#e on the doc5s of the city!s ri#er. Cittle Chandler en#iously fantasi0es about the Condon
"ress Dob of his old friend and his tra#els to liberal cities li5e 'aris, but the shame he feels about such
desires sto"s him from ta5ing action to "ursue similar goals. 4ore often than offering a literal esca"e
from a "hysical "lace, the stories tell of o""ortunities to esca"e from smaller, more "ersonal restraints.
:#eline, for e6am"le, see5s release from domestic duties through marriage. *n >wo =allants,@ Cenehan
wishes to esca"e his life of schemes, but he cannot ta5e action to do so. 4r. Doran wishes to esca"e
marrying 'olly in >7 ,oarding &ouse,@ but he 5nows he must relent. he im"ulse to esca"e from
unha""y situations defines Joyce!s Dubliners, as does the inability to actually underta5e the "rocess.
he *ntersection of Cife and Death
Dubliners o"ens with >he /isters,@ which e6"lores death and the "rocess of remembering the dead, and
closes with >he Dead,@ which in#o5es the Euiet calm of snow that co#ers both the dead and the li#ing.
hese stories boo5end the collection and em"hasi0e its consistent focus on the meeting "oint between life
and death. :ncounters between the newly dead and the li#ing, such as in >he /isters@ and >7 'ainful
Case,@ e6"licitly e6"lore this meeting "oint, showing what 5ind of aftershoc5s a death can ha#e for the
li#ing. 4r. Duffy, for e6am"le, ree#aluates his life after learning about 4rs. /inico!s death in >7 'ainful
Case,@ while the narrator of >he /isters@ doesn!t 5now what to feel u"on the death of the "riest. *n other
stories, including >:#eline,@ >*#y Day in the Committee Room,@ and >he Dead,@ memories of the dead
haunt the li#ing and color e#ery action. *n >*#y Day,@ for e6am"le, 'arnell ho#ers in the "olitical tal5.
he dead cast a shadow on the "resent, drawing attention to the mista5es and failures that "eo"le ma5e
generation after generation. /uch o#erla" underscores Joyce!s interest in life cycles and their re"etition,
and also his concern about those >li#ing dead@ figures li5e 4aria in >Clay@ who mo#e through life with
little e6citement or emotion e6ce"t in reaction to e#eryday snags and delays. he monotony of Dublin life
leads Dubliners to li#e in a sus"ended state between life and death, in which each "erson has a "ulse but
is inca"able of "rofound, life-sustaining action.
4otifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary de#ices that can hel" to de#elo" and inform the te6t!s
maDor themes.
*n most of the stories in Dubliners, a character has a desire, faces obstacles to it, then ultimately relents
and suddenly sto"s all action. hese moments of "aralysis show the characters! inability to change their
li#es and re#erse the routines that ham"er their wishes. /uch immobility fi6es the Dubliners in cycles of
e6"erience. he young boy in >7raby@ halts in the middle of the dar5 ba0aar, 5nowing that he will ne#er
esca"e the tedious delays of Dublin and attain lo#e. :#eline free0es li5e an animal, fearing the "ossible
new e6"erience of life away from home. hese moments e#o5e the theme of death in life as they show
characters in a state of inaction and numbness. he o"ening story introduces this motif through the
character of Father Flynn, whose literal "aralysis tra"s him in a state sus"ended between life and death.
hroughout the collection, this stifling state a""ears as "art of daily life in Dublin, which all Dubliners
ultimately ac5nowledge and acce"t.
Characters in Dubliners e6"erience both great and small re#elations in their e#eryday li#es, moments that
Joyce himself referred to as >e"i"hanies,@ a word with connotations of religious re#elation. hese
e"i"hanies do not bring new e6"eriences and the "ossibility of reform, as one might e6"ect such moments
to. Rather, these e"i"hanies allow characters to better understand their "articular circumstances, usually
rife with sadness and routine, which they then return to with resignation and frustration. /ometimes
e"i"hanies occur only on the narrati#e le#el, ser#ing as sign"osts to the reader that a story!s character has
missed a moment of self-reflection. For e6am"le, in >Clay,@ during the &alloween game when 4aria
touches the clay, which signifies an early death, she thin5s nothing of it, o#erloo5ing a moment that could
ha#e re#ealed something about herself or the "eo"le around her. >7raby,@ >:#eline,@ >7 Cittle Cloud,@ >7
'ainful Case,@ and >he Dead@ all conclude with e"i"hanies that the characters fully register, yet these
e"i"hanies are tinged with frustration, sadness, and regret. 7t the end of >he Dead,@ =abriel!s re#elation
clarifies the connection between the dead and the li#ing, an e"i"hany that resonates throughout Dubliners
as a whole. he e"i"hany motif highlights the re"eated routine of ho"e and "assi#e acce"tance that mar5s
each of these "ortraits, as well as the general human condition.
Dece"tion, deceit, and treachery scar nearly e#ery relationshi" in the stories in Dubliners, demonstrating
the unease with which "eo"le attem"t to connect with each other, both "latonically and romantically. *n
>he ,oarding &ouse,@ 4rs. 4ooney tra"s 4r. Doran into marrying her daughter 'olly, and 4r. Doran
dreads the union but will meet his obligation to "ursue it. *n >wo =allants,@ Cenehan and Corley both
sus"ect each other of cheating and scheming, though they Doin forces to swindle innocent housemaids out
of their li#elihoods. Concerns about betrayal frame the con#ersations in >*#y Day in the Committee
Room,@ "articularly as 'arnell!s su""orters see his demise as the result of "ro-,ritish treachery. %ntil his
affair was e6"osed, 'arnell had been a "o"ular and influential "olitician, and many *rish belie#e the
,ritish were res"onsible for his downfall. 7ll of the men in >*#y Day@ dis"lay wa#ering beliefs that
suggest betrayal looms in *reland!s "olitical "resent. *n >he Dead,@ =abriel feels betrayed by his wife!s
emotional out"ouring for a former lo#er. his feeling e#o5es not only the sense of dis"lacement and
humiliation that all of these Dubliners fear but also the tendency for "eo"le to categori0e many acts as
>betrayal@ in order to shift blame from themsel#es onto others.
References to "riests, religious belief, and s"iritual e6"erience a""ear throughout the stories in Dubliners
and ultimately "aint an unflattering "ortrait of religion. *n the first story, >he /isters,@ Father Flynn
cannot 5ee" a strong gri" on the chalice and goes mad in a confessional bo6. his story mar5s religion!s
first a""earance as a haunting but incom"etent and dangerous com"onent of Dublin life. he strange man
of >7n :ncounter@ wears the same clothing as Father Flynn, connecting his lasci#ious beha#ior, howe#er
remotely, to the Catholic Church. *n >=race,@ Father 'urdon shares his name with Dublin!s red-light
district, one of many subtle ironies in that story. *n >=race,@ om ?ernan!s fall and absent redem"tion
highlight the "retension and inefficacy of religionBreligion is Dust another daily ritual of re"etition that
ad#ances no one. *n other stories, such as >7raby,@ religion acts as a meta"hor for dedication that
dwindles. he "resence of so many religious references also suggests that religion tra"s Dubliners into
thin5ing about their li#es after death.
/ymbols are obDects, characters, figures, or colors used to re"resent abstract ideas or conce"ts.
1indows in Dubliners consistently e#o5e the antici"ation of e#ents or encounters that are about to
ha""en. For e6am"le, the narrator in >he /isters@ loo5s into a window each night, waiting for signs of
Father Flynn!s death, and the narrator in >7raby@ watches from his "arlor window for the a""earance of
4angan!s sister. he sus"ense for these young boys centers in that s"ace se"arating the interior life from
the e6terior life. 1indows also mar5 the threshold between domestic s"ace and the outside world, and
through them the characters in Dubliners obser#e their own li#es as well as the li#es of others. ,oth
:#eline and =abriel turn to windows when they reflect on their own situations, both of which center on
the relationshi" between the indi#idual and the indi#idual!s "lace in a larger conte6t.
Dus5 and $ighttime
Joyce!s Dublin is "er"etually dar5. $o streams of sunlight or cheery landsca"es illuminate these stories.
*nstead, a s"ectrum of grey and blac5 underscores their somber tone. Characters wal5 through Dublin at
dus5, an in-between time that ho#ers between the acti#ity of day and the stillness of night, and li#e their
most "rofound moments in the dar5ness of late hours. hese dar5 bac5dro"s e#o5e the half-life or in-
between state the characters in Dubliners occu"y, both "hysically and emotionally, suggesting the
intermingling of life and d eath that mar5s e#ery story. *n this state, life can e6ist and "roceed, but the
dar5ness renders Dubliners! e6"eriences dire and doomed.
$early all of the characters in Dubliners eat or drin5, and in most cases food ser#es as a reminder of both
the threatening dullness of routine and the Doys and difficulties of togetherness. *n >7 'ainful Case,@ 4r.
Duffy!s solitary, du"licated meals are finally interru"ted by the shoc5ing news"a"er article that re"orts
4rs. /inico!s death. his interru"tion ma5es him reali0e that his habits isolate him from the lo#e and
ha""iness of >life!s feast.@ he "arty meal in >he Dead@ might e#o5e con#i#iality, but the rigid order of
the rich table instead suggests military battle. *n >wo =allants,@ Cenehan!s Euiet meal of "eas and ginger
beer allows him to dwell on his self-absorbed life, so lac5ing in meaningful relationshi"s and security,
while the constant imbibing in >7fter the Race@ fuels Jimmy!s attem"ts to con#ince himself he belongs
with his u""er-class com"anions. Food in Dubliners allows Joyce to "ortray his characters and their
e6"eriences through a substance that both sustains life yet also symboli0es its restraints.
>he /isters@
7 young boy reflects on the im"ending death of his friend Father Flynn. ?nowing that after three stro5es
the "araly0ed "riest has little time left, the boy ma5es a habit of wal5ing "ast Father Flynn!s house,
loo5ing for the light of the traditional two candles "laced on a coffin that would indicate his death. :ach
time, the boy thin5s of the word "aralysis. Ane night at his aunt and uncle!s house, the boy arri#es at
su""er to find his uncle and Ald Cotter, a family friend, sitting before the fire. Ald Cotter has come to the
house to share the news that Father Flynn is dead. ?nowing that e#eryone waits for his reaction, the boy
remains Euiet.
1hile the aunt shuffles food to and from the table, a con#ersation ensues between the uncle and Ald
Cotter, and the uncle notes the high ho"es Father Flynn had for the boy. &e hints that Father Flynn
"lanned to "re"are the boy for the "riesthood and remar5s on the friendshi" between them. Ald Cotter,
howe#er, thin5s of Father Flynn as a >"eculiar case@ and insists that young boys should "lay with "eo"le
their own age. 1hile the uncle agrees with Ald Cotter, the aunt is disturbed that anyone could thin5
critically of Father Flynn. /he as5s Ald Cotter to clarify his "oint, but Ald Cotter trails off and the
con#ersation ends. hat night, Ald Cotter!s comments 5ee" the boy awa5e, and he dreams of Father Flynn
smiling and confessing something to him.
he ne6t morning the boy #isits Father Flynn!s house, where a bouEuet of flowers and a card hang from
the door handle. *nstead of 5noc5ing, he wal5s away and reminisces about the time he s"ent there. &e
used to bring Father Flynn snuffing tobacco from his aunt, and Father Flynn would teach him things, such
as Catin "ronunciation and the "arts of the 4ass. Remembering Ald Cotter!s cry"tic comments, the boy
then tries to recall more of his dream from the night before, but he can remember only a 'ersian settingB
he cannot remember the end. hat e#ening the boy #isits the house with his aunt, and they 5neel at Father
Flynn!s o"en coffin with one of Father Flynn!s sisters, $annie, to "ray. 7fterward, the three retire to
another room to Doin :li0a, Father Flynn!s other sister. A#er sherry and crac5ers they discuss Father
Flynn!s death, his ta6ing career as a "riest, and the hel"ful ser#ices of Father A!Rour5e, another "riest
who anointed Father Flynn and com"leted all of the necessary "a"erwor5 and death notices. 7ll the while
the boy remains Euiet. he story ends with :li0a!s recollection of Father Flynn!s increasingly odd
beha#ior, which started with dro""ing a chalice during 4ass. 1hen one night Father A!Rour5e and
another "riest found Father Flynn shut in a confessional bo6, laughing to himself, they finally reali0ed he
was sic5.
*n >he /isters,@ and in the rest of the stories in Dubliners, strange and "u00ling e#ents occur that remain
une6"lained. Father Flynn suffers from "araly0ing stro5es and e#entually dies, but his deterioration,
e"itomi0ed by his laughing fren0y in a confessional bo6, also hints that he was mentally unstable. he
reader ne#er learns e6actly what was wrong with him. /imilarly, Father Flynn and the young narrator had
a relationshi" that Ald Cotter thin5s was unhealthy, but that the narrator "aints as s"iritual when he
recounts the discussions he and Father Flynn had about Church rituals. &owe#er, the narrator also has
strange dreams about Father Flynn and admits to feeling uncomfortable around him. Joyce "resents Dust
enough information so that the reader sus"ects Father Flynn is a male#olent figure, but ne#er enough so
that the reader 5nows the full story. /uch a techniEue is hinted at in the first "aragra"h of the story. he
narrator thin5s of the word "aralysis when loo5ing at Father Flynn!s window and says the word sounds
strange, li5e the word gnomon, a term that generally refers to instruments, li5e the hand on a sundial, that
indicate something. Joyce does e6actly thatF &e "oints to details and suggestions, but ne#er com"letes the
he "hysical "resence of Father Flynn lingers throughout the story, coloring the narrator!s e6"erience of
dealing with death in life and showing how a death interru"ts normal human acti#ities. Father Flynn "lays
a fleshly role in the story. &is a""roaching death ma5es the narrator thin5 of the cor"se, which he
e#entually sees. 1hen Father Flynn dies, the narrator continues to thin5 of his "hysical "resence,
"articularly the lurid way in which his tongue rested on his li", and dreams of his face. /uch bi0arre
"hysical images e#o5e the aw5ward nature of death. Ci5e the e"isodes of Father Flynn!s odd beha#ior
that the sisters recount, the narrator!s memories gi#e Father Flynn a haunting "resence that is fearful and
mysterious, not beautiful and neat. *n the final scene with the sisters, eating, drin5ing, and tal5ing become
difficult since death frames those acti#ities. 7fter #iewing the cor"se, the narrator declines the crac5ers
offered because he fears that eating them would ma5e too much noise, as if he might disturb Father Flynn
in his coffin. /imilarly, the narrator!s aunt is unable to broach the subDect of death. /he as5s Euestions
about how Father Flynn died, but her thoughts trail off. Father Flynn may be dead, but in many ways he is
still #ery "resent among the li#ing.
he inability of the narrator and his aunt to eat and s"ea5 during their #isit to the sisters recalls the sense
of "aralysis that the narrator connects to the dying Father Flynn in the story!s o"ening "aragra"h. his
lin5 between "aralysis or inaction to both death and religion under"ins all the stories in Dubliners.
Characters face e#ents that "araly0e them from ta5ing action or fulfilling their desires, as though they
e6"erience a 5ind of death in life. *n >he /isters,@ such "aralysis is connected to religion through Father
Flynn. Father Flynn!s dro""ing of the chalice and his inability to gras" the same obDect in his coffin
suggest that the rituals of religion lead to "aralysis. &is sisters also attribute his demise to the strains of
clerical life. he cri""ling Euality of religion resurfaces in other stories li5e >=race,@ in which Joyce more
directly Euestions the role of the Church in the li#es of Dubliners.
his story o"ens with an image of a Dubliner ga0ing through a window and reflecting on a dilemma. /uch
a symbol a""ears throughout the collection, and here it is "articularly im"ortant because it draws attention
to the narrati#e "oint of #iew. >he /isters@ is the first of three stories in the collection told in first-"erson
"oint of #iew. 7s in the other two stories, >7n :ncounter@ and >7raby,@ the narrator ne#er di#ulges his
name and rarely "artici"ates in the con#ersations. he o"ening image of the window in the first "aragra"h
reinforces this sense of Euiet, detached obser#ation, which the narrators of the later stories ado"t. hrough
this narrati#e techniEue Joyce suggests that e#en first-hand e6"erience is in some ways #oyeuristic, and
that it!s "ossible for a "erson to obser#e his or her own life from the outside.
>7n :ncounter@
*magining they are in the 1ild 1est, a grou" of schoolboys stage moc5 >cowboy and *ndian@ battles. he
narrator, an unnamed boy, e6"lains that Joe Dillon, the host and consistent winner, always ends his
#ictory with a dance. /uch games and the fictional ad#enture stories on which they are based bond these
boys together, both in leisurely release and secrecy. 7s the narrator e6"lains, he and his fellow students
surre"titiously circulate the maga0ines that carry the stories at school. he narrator recalls one time when
Father ,utler caught Ceo Dillon, Joe!s younger brother, with one such "ublication in his "oc5et. Father
,utler scolded Ceo for reading such material instead of his Roman history.
he narrator yearns for more concrete ad#entures and organi0es a "lan with Ceo and another boy named
4ahony to s5i" school one day and wal5 through Dublin, #isiting the shi"s along the wharf and finally
the 'igeon &ouse, Dublin!s electrical "ower station. &e confirms the "act by collecting si6"ence from
Ceo and 4ahony, and they all "romise to meet at ten the ne6t morning. &owe#er, only 4ahony arri#es as
agreed. 1hile the narrator and 4ahony wal5 south through $orth Dublin, two "oor boys a""roach them
and yell insults, thin5ing them 'rotestant. Resisting retribution, the boys continue until they reach the
ri#er, and there they buy some food and watch the Dublin water traffic and laborers. hey cross the ri#er
in a ferryboat, buy some more food on the other side, and wander the streets until they reach an o"en field
where they rest on a slo"e.
he boys are alone for a while until an older man a""ears in the distance, wal5ing toward them leaning on
a stic5. &e gradually a""roaches and "asses the boys, but then bac5trac5s and Doins them. he man begins
to tal5, reminiscing about his boyhood and tal5ing about boo5s, such as the wor5s of Cord Cytton, who
wrote romances. he con#ersation then turns to >sweethearts@ as the man as5s the boys if they ha#e many
girlfriends, a Euestion that sur"rises the narrator. 7s the story continues, the narrator notes the "eculiar
a""earance and beha#ior of the manF his yellow-toothed, ga"ed smile, how he twitched occasionally, and,
most of all, his monotonous re"etition of "hrases.
1hen the man lea#es for a moment, the narrator suggests that he and 4ahony assume the code names of
/mith and 4ur"hy, to be safe. 7s the man returns, 4ahony runs off to chase a stray cat, lea#ing the
narrator to listen to the man!s "eculiar monologues alone. he man remar5s that 4ahony seems li5e the
5ind of boy that gets whi""ed at school, and from there launches into a diatribe about disci"lining boys
who misbeha#e, insisting that any boy who tal5s to a girl should be whi""ed, and that he himself would
enDoy e6ecuting the "unishment. 7t a "ause in the man!s s"eech, the narrator rises and announces that he
must de"art. &e calls for 4ahony, using the name 4ur"hy, who runs across the field toward him in
>7n :ncounter@ suggests that although "eo"le yearn for esca"e and ad#enture, routine is ine#itable, and
new e6"eriences, when they do come, can be "rofoundly disturbing. he narrator and his friends "lay
games about the 1ild 1est to disru"t the rote acti#ity of school, and #enture into Dublin for the same
reason. &owe#er, the narrator and his friends ne#er fully reach esca"e. hough the narrator bemoans the
restraint of school, his attem"t to a#oid it leads him to the discomforting encounter with an old man
whose fi6ation on erotic no#els, girlfriends, and whi""ing casts him as a "er#ert. his cree"y figure
ser#es as an embodiment of routine and suggests that re"etition e6ists e#en within strange new
e6"eriences. he man wal5s in circles, a""roaching and "assing the boys before retracing his ste"s to Doin
them. &e mimics this action in his s"eech by re"eating "oints already raised and lingering on to"ics
uncomfortable for the narrator. 7lthough these boys see5 an esca"e, they must suffer monotony, in the
form of an e6cruciating afternoon with a frightening man. he rather mundane title for the story suggests
that this dee"ly aw5ward and an6ious meeting is not so aty"ical of Dublin life, nor of childhood.
he troubling "resence of a strange older man recalls the ambiguous relationshi" between Father Flynn
and the narrator of >he /isters,@ but this story clearly shows the man e6"loiting and abusing the
innocence of youth. he man!s con#ersation becomes more and more ina""ro"riate and threatening,
culminating in his fantasy about whi""ing 4ahony. 4ost dangerous, the circular manner of his s"eech
"araly0es the narrator. he man!s orbit of words both mesmeri0es and disturbs him, and he can do nothing
but stare at the ground and listen. 1hen the man abru"tly rises to wal5 away and, "resumably, e6"oses
himself to the boys, the narrator remains fro0en li5e a startled #ictim. *n this state, the narrator 5nows
something is wrong, since he suggests to 4ahony that they assume fa5e names, but he does not run away.
:#en when the man returns and 4ahony runs away to chase a cat, the narrator stays rooted to the ground.
:6actly why the narrator e6"eriences this "aralysis is not e6"lained, but its effects are anything but
4any references to religion ho#er in >7n :ncounter,@ demonstrating that religion is a fi6ture in Dublin
life that e#en the boys! imaginations cannot elude. 1hen Father ,utler chastises Ceo about the maga0ine,
he scolds that only 'rotestant boys, not Catholic boys li5e Ceo, would read such fanciful stories. his
insult introduces the tension between Catholics and 'rotestants that Joyce alludes to throughout
Dubliners, and re#eals it to be a routine fact of life in *reland. Religious tension a""ears again when two
"oor boys throw roc5s at the narrator and 4ahony and mista5e them for 'rotestants, an incident that
suggests that the line between these staunchly o""osed grou"s is blurry. he narrator, using words li5e
chi#alry and siege, "retends that he and 4ahony are in a battle, but the "layfulness of such imaginary
games only reinforces the authenticity of the scene. *magination can mas5 e6"eriences, Joyce suggests,
but it cannot re#erse them or ma5e them disa""ear.
he narrator, an unnamed boy, describes the $orth Dublin street on which his house is located. &e thin5s
about the "riest who died in the house before his family mo#ed in and the games that he and his friends
"layed in the street. &e recalls how they would run through the bac5 lanes of the houses and hide in the
shadows when they reached the street again, ho"ing to a#oid "eo"le in the neighborhood, "articularly the
boy!s uncle or the sister of his friend 4angan. he sister often comes to the front of their house to call the
brother, a moment that the narrator sa#ors.
:#ery day begins for this narrator with such glim"ses of 4angan!s sister. &e "laces himself in the front
room of his house so he can see her lea#e her house, and then he rushes out to wal5 behind her Euietly
until finally "assing her. he narrator and 4angan!s sister tal5 little, but she is always in his thoughts. &e
thin5s about her when he accom"anies his aunt to do food sho""ing on /aturday e#ening in the busy
mar5et"lace and when he sits in the bac5 room of his house alone. he narrator!s infatuation is so intense
that he fears he will ne#er gather the courage to s"ea5 with the girl and e6"ress his feelings.
Ane morning, 4angan!s sister as5s the narrator if he "lans to go to 7raby, a Dublin ba0aar. /he notes that
she cannot attend, as she has already committed to attend a retreat with her school. &a#ing reco#ered
from the shoc5 of the con#ersation, the narrator offers to bring her something from the ba0aar. his brief
meeting launches the narrator into a "eriod of eager, restless waiting and fidgety tension in antici"ation of
the ba0aar. &e cannot focus in school. &e finds the lessons tedious, and they distract him from thin5ing
about 4angan!s sister.
An the morning of the ba0aar the narrator reminds his uncle that he "lans to attend the e#ent so that the
uncle will return home early and "ro#ide train fare. 8et dinner "asses and a guest #isits, but the uncle does
not return. he narrator im"atiently endures the time "assing, until at ( ".m. the uncle finally returns,
unbothered that he has forgotten about the narrator!s "lans. Reciting the e"igram >7ll wor5 and no "lay
ma5es Jac5 a dull boy,@ the uncle gi#es the narrator the money and as5s him if he 5nows the "oem >he
7rab!s Farewell to his /teed.@ he narrator lea#es Dust as his uncle begins to recite the lines, and, than5s
to eternally slow trains, arri#es at the ba0aar Dust before 1) ".m., when it is starting to close down. &e
a""roaches one stall that is still o"en, but buys nothing, feeling unwanted by the woman watching o#er
the goods. 1ith no "urchase for 4angan!s sister, the narrator stands angrily in the deserted ba0aar as the
lights go out.
*n >7raby,@ the allure of new lo#e and distant "laces mingles with the familiarity of e#eryday drudgery,
with frustrating conseEuences. 4angan!s sister embodies this mingling, since she is "art of the familiar
surroundings of the narrator!s street as well as the e6otic "romise of the ba0aar. /he is a >brown figure@
who both reflects the brown faIades of the buildings that line the street and e#o5es the s5in color of
romantici0ed images of 7rabia that flood the narrator!s head. Ci5e the ba0aar that offers e6"eriences that
differ from e#eryday Dublin, 4angan!s sister into6icates the narrator with new feelings of Doy and elation.
&is lo#e for her, howe#er, must com"ete with the dullness of schoolwor5, his uncle!s lateness, and the
Dublin trains. hough he "romises 4angan!s sister that he will go to 7raby and "urchase a gift for her,
these mundane realities undermine his "lans and ultimately thwart his desires. he narrator arri#es at the
ba0aar only to encounter flowered teacu"s and :nglish accents, not the freedom of the enchanting :ast.
7s the ba0aar closes down, he reali0es that 4angan!s sister will fail his e6"ectations as well, and that his
desire for her is actually only a #ain wish for change.
he narrator!s change of heart concludes the story on a moment of e"i"hany, but not a "ositi#e one.
*nstead of reaffirming his lo#e or reali0ing that he does not need gifts to e6"ress his feelings for 4angan!s
sister, the narrator sim"ly gi#es u". &e seems to inter"ret his arri#al at the ba0aar as it fades into dar5ness
as a sign that his relationshi" with 4angan!s sister will also remain Dust a wishful idea and that his
infatuation was as misguided as his fantasies about the ba0aar. 1hat might ha#e been a story of ha""y,
youthful lo#e becomes a tragic story of defeat. 4uch li5e the disturbing, unfulfilling ad#enture in >7n
:ncounter,@ the narrator!s failure at the ba0aar suggests that fulfillment and contentedness remain foreign
to Dubliners, e#en in the most unusual e#ents of the city li5e an annual ba0aar.
he tedious e#ents that delay the narrator!s tri" indicate that no room e6ists for lo#e in the daily li#es of
Dubliners, and the absence of lo#e renders the characters in the story almost anonymous. hough the
narrator might imagine himself to be carrying thoughts of 4angan!s sister through his day as a "riest
would carry a :ucharistic chalice to an altar, the minutes tic5 away through school, dinner, and his uncle!s
boring "oetic recitation. ime does not adhere to the narrator!s #isions of his relationshi". he story
"resents this frustration as uni#ersalF the narrator is nameless, the girl is always >4angan!s sister@ as
though she is any girl ne6t door, and the story closes with the narrator imagining himself as a creature. *n
>7raby,@ Joyce suggests that all "eo"le e6"erience frustrated desire for lo#e and new e6"eriences.
:#eline &ill sits at a window in her home and loo5s out onto the street while fondly recalling her
childhood, when she "layed with other children in a field now de#elo"ed with new homes. &er thoughts
turn to her sometimes abusi#e father with whom she li#es, and to the "ros"ect of freeing herself from her
hard life Duggling Dobs as a sho" wor5er and a nanny to su""ort herself and her father. :#eline faces a
difficult dilemmaF remain at home li5e a dutiful daughter, or lea#e Dublin with her lo#er, Fran5, who is a
sailor. &e wants her to marry him and li#e with him in ,uenos 7ires, and she has already agreed to lea#e
with him in secret. 7s :#eline recalls, Fran5!s courtshi" of her was "leasant until her father began to
#oice his disa""ro#al and bic5er with Fran5. 7fter that, the two lo#ers met clandestinely.
7s :#eline re#iews her decision to embar5 on a new life, she holds in her la" two letters, one to her father
and one to her brother &arry. /he begins to fa#or the sunnier memories of her old family life, when her
mother was ali#e and her brother was li#ing at home, and notes that she did "romise her mother to
dedicate herself to maintaining the home. /he reasons that her life at home, cleaning and coo5ing, is hard
but "erha"s not the worst o"tionBher father is not always mean, after all. he sound of a street organ
then reminds her of her mother!s death, and her thoughts change course. /he remembers her mother!s
une#entful, sad life, and "assionately embraces her decision to esca"e the same fate by lea#ing with
7t the doc5s in Dublin, :#eline waits in a crowd to board the shi" with Fran5. /he a""ears detached and
worried, o#erwhelmed by the images around her, and "rays to =od for direction. &er "re#ious declaration
of intent seems to ha#e ne#er ha""ened. 1hen the boat whistle blows and Fran5 "ulls on her hand to lead
her with him, :#eline resists. /he clutches the barrier as Fran5 is swe"t into the throng mo#ing toward the
shi". &e continually shouts >ComeH@ but :#eline remains fi6ed to the land, motionless and emotionless.
:#eline!s story illustrates the "itfalls of holding onto the "ast when facing the future. &ers is the first
"ortrait of a female in Dubliners, and it reflects the conflicting "ull many women in early twentieth-
century Dublin felt between a domestic life rooted in the "ast and the "ossibility of a new married life
abroad. Ane moment, :#eline feels ha""y to lea#e her hard life, yet at the ne6t moment she worries about
fulfilling "romises to her dead mother. /he gras"s the letters she!s written to her father and brother,
re#ealing her inability to let go of those family relationshi"s, des"ite her father!s cruelty and her brother!s
absence. /he clings to the older and more "leasant memories and imagines what other "eo"le want her to
do or will do for her. /he sees Fran5 as a rescuer, sa#ing her from her domestic situation. :#eline
sus"ends herself between the call of home and the "ast and the call of new e6"eriences and the future,
unable to ma5e a decision.
he threat of re"eating her mother!s life s"urs :#eline!s e"i"hany that she must lea#e with Fran5 and
embar5 on a new "hase in her life, but this reali0ation is short-li#ed. /he hears a street organ, and when
she remembers the street organ that "layed on the night before her mother!s death, :#eline resol#es not to
re"eat her mother!s life of >common"lace sacrifices closing in final cra0iness,@ but she does e6actly that.
Ci5e the young boys of >7n :ncounter@ and >7raby,@ she desires esca"e, but her reliance on routine and
re"etition o#errides such im"ulses. An the doc5s with Fran5, away from the familiarity of home, :#eline
see5s guidance in the routine habit of "rayer. &er action is the first sign that she in fact hasn!t made a
decision, but instead remains fi6ed in a circle of indecision. /he will 5ee" her li"s mo#ing in the safe
"ractice of re"etiti#e "rayer rather than Doin her lo#e on a new and different "ath. hough :#eline fears
that Fran5 will drown her in their new life, her reliance on e#eryday rituals is what causes :#eline to
free0e and not follow Fran5 onto the shi".
:#eline!s "aralysis within an orbit of re"etition lea#es her a >hel"less animal,@ stri""ed of human will and
emotion. he story does not suggest that :#eline "lacidly returns home and continues her life, but shows
her transformation into an automaton that lac5s e6"ression. :#eline, the story suggests, will ho#er in
mindless re"etition, on her own, in Dublin. An the doc5s with Fran5, the "ossibility of li#ing a fully
reali0ed life left her.
>7fter the Race@
7s many flashy cars dri#e toward Dublin, crowds gather and cheer. 7 race has Dust finished, and though
the French ha#e "laced second and third after the =erman-,elgian team, the local sightseers loudly
su""ort them. Jimmy Doyle rides in one of the cars with his wealthy French friend, Charles /Jgouin,
whom he met while studying at Cambridge. wo other men ride with them as wellF /Jgouin!s Canadian
cousin, 7ndrJ Ri#iJre, and a &ungarian "ianist, Killona. Dri#ing bac5 into Dublin, the young men reDoice
about the #ictory, and Jimmy enDoys the "restige of the ride. &e fondly thin5s about his recent in#estment
in /Jgouin!s motor-com"any business #enture, a financial bac5ing that his father, a successful butcher,
a""ro#es and su""orts. Jimmy sa#ors the notoriety of being surrounded by and seen with such glamorous
com"any, and in such a lu6urious car.
/Jgouin dro"s Jimmy and Killona off in Dublin so they can return to Jimmy!s home, where Killona is
staying, to change into formal dress for dinner at /Jgouin!s hotel. Jimmy!s "roud "arents dote on their
smartly dressed and well-connected son. 7t the dinner, the reunited "arty Doins an :nglishman, Routh, and
con#ersation energetically mo#es from music to cars to "olitics, under the direction of /Jgouin. Jimmy,
turning to *rish-:nglish relations, rouses an angry res"onse from Routh, but /Jgouin e6"ertly snuffs any
"otential for argument with a toast.
7fter the meal, the young men stroll through Dublin and run into another acEuaintance, an 7merican
named Farley, who in#ites them to his yacht. he "arty grows merrier, and they sing a French marching
song as they ma5e their way to the harbor. Ance on board, the men "roceed to dance and drin5 as Killona
"lays the "iano. Jimmy ma5es a s"eech that his com"anions loudly a""laud, and then the men settle down
to "lay cards. Drun5 and giddy, Jimmy "lays game after game, losing more and more money. &e yearns
for the "laying to sto", but goes along ne#ertheless. 7 final game lea#es Routh the cham"ion. :#en as the
biggest loser alongside Farley, Jimmy!s s"irits ne#er dwindle. &e 5nows he will feel remorse the ne6t day,
but assures himself of his ha""iness Dust as Killona o"ens the cabin door and announces that daybrea5 has
>7fter the Race@ e6"lores the "otentially destructi#e desire for money and status. he monetary standing
and social connections of most of the characters are e6"lored, but the story focuses on the efforts of
Jimmy, and to some e6tent Jimmy!s father, to fit into an affluent class. Jimmy is com"letely unburdened
and childishly whimsical about life and money, as his father fosters Jimmy!s lush lifestyle. &a#ing earned
a large income from wise contracts and retail de#elo"ments in his butchery business, the father "ro#ides
Jimmy with a "restigious education at Cambridge, where he gains /Jgouin!s co#eted friendshi".
&owe#er, this "otentially sunny "ortrait of carefree wealth and "restige is dulled by the less im"ressi#e
e6cesses of success. Jimmy!s studies focus mainly on social outings and s"ending, and at the end of
>7fter the Race@ Jimmy emerges not as a dashing, "o"ular bachelor, but as a clueless fool, his "oc5ets
em"ty after a s"ate of card games in which he was barely sober enough to "artici"ate. *ndeed, Jimmy
hardly seems cogni0ant of himself as a "erson, but highly aware of where and with whom he is seen. For
Jimmy, see5ing riches and notoriety leads only to "o#erty and embarrassment.
Ci5e many of the characters in Dubliners, Jimmy has a moment of re#elation in which he recogni0es the
truth of his situation, but he does nothing to change it. 7fter he loses ruinously at cards, Jimmy hangs his
head in his hands, 5nowing that regret will set in the ne6t day. he irony of the conclusion is that the ne6t
day is already there, that daybrea5 has come. Jimmy, the story suggests, always faces the reality of his
feigned wealth and his follies, but he also always a#oids it. Regret lur5s constantly beneath the surface of
his actions, yet he continuously "uts off fully ac5nowledging it. Jimmy instead submerses himself in his
infatuation with signs of wealth. &e relishes the e6"erience of riding in the French car, e6claiming to
himself how stylish the grou" must loo5. /uch statements re#eal Jimmy as into6icated with "resentation
and committed to con#incing himself of his rightful "lace in the grou". 1hen Jimmy deli#ers his s"eech
on the yacht, he cannot remember what he says only moments after finishing, but assures himself that it
must ha#e been decent if such e6cellent "eo"le a""lauded him. he story casts Jimmy as sim"le and
"assi#e, "lacing trust in money that constantly eludes him.
>7fter the Race@ highlights the "olitical interests that under"in the Doyle family!s clamoring for money.
he father!s "rofitable business that gi#es leisure to Jimmy flourished at the cost of his "olitical #iews.
hough once a fer#ent su""orter of *rish inde"endence, the father ma5es his money on contracts with the
same "olice who u"hold ,ritish law. &e also acts against the national interests of "romoting all things
*rish by sending his son to :ngland and encouraging his in#estments in French business #entures. 1hen
Jimmy attem"ts to tal5 about such "o"ularly debated issues at the dinner table, his #oice is silenced. he
:nglishman lea#es this story the winner. Ci5e the lu6ury cars that s"eed away from the countryside to
return to the continent in the o"ening of the story, all money seems to flee from Jimmy!s "oc5ets into
those of others by the end of the story. he *rish, >7fter the Race@ im"lies, always finish in last "lace.
>wo =allants@
Cenehan and Corley, two men whose occu"ations are sus"iciously #ague, wal5 through the streets of
central Dublin after a day of drin5ing in a bar. Corley dominates the con#ersation, chatting about his latest
romantic interest, a maid who wor5s at a wealthy home and with whom he has a date that e#ening. &e
brags about the cigarettes and cigars the maid "ilfers for him from the house and how he has e6"ertly
managed to a#oid gi#ing her his name. Cenehan listens "atiently, occasionally offering a Euestion or a
clichJd res"onse. 7s the men tal5, they re#eal a "lan they!#e hatched to con#ince the maid to "rocure
money from her em"loyer!s house. Cenehan re"eatedly as5s Corley if he thin5s she is right for their
business, which launches Corley into a short lecture on the utility of a good maid, or >sla#ey.@ %nli5e
other women who insist on being com"ensated, Corley e6"lains, sla#eys "itch in. &e "auses wistfully to
recall one of his former lo#ers who now wor5s as a "rostitute, and Cenehan teases that Corley, who seems
to e6cel in "im"ing, must ha#e encouraged such a "rofession.
he men resume discussing their "lan, and Corley confirms that the maid will turn u" as "romised. hey
"ass a har"ist "laying a mournful song about *rish legends, then a""roach the a""ointed corner where the
maid is waiting. /he is a young, ruddy-chee5ed woman, dressed oddly with a sailor hat and tattered boa.
Cenehan, im"ressed with Corley!s taste, leers at her. Corley a""ears disgruntled, sus"ecting Cenehan of
trying to sEuee0e him out of the "lan. ,ut as he lea#es Cenehan to greet his date, he "romises to wal5 "ast
so Cenehan can loo5 at her again. he men agree to meet later that night at a corner by the maid!s house.
Cenehan watches as Corley and the maid wal5 off, and he ta5es another intense loo5 before "ositioning
himself so he can watch the cou"le "ass once more.
Finally alone, Cenehan aimlessly wanders through Dublin to "ass the time. $ot wishing to s"ea5 with
anyone, Cenehan continues to wal5 until he sto"s into a bar for a Euic5 meal of "eas and ginger beer.
A#er his food, he sadly contem"lates his lifeF instead of Dust scra"ing by, he wishes instead for a steady
Dob and stable home life. Cenehan lea#es the bar and, after running into some friends in the street, ma5es
his way to meet Corley. Cenehan ner#ously smo5es a cigarette, worrying that Corley has cut him out of
the "lan, before he s"ots Corley and the maid. &e stealthily wal5s behind the cou"le until they sto" at a
"osh residence, where the maid runs inside through the ser#ant!s entrance. *n a moment, she emerges
from the front door, meets Corley, and then runs bac5 inside. Corley lea#es. Cenehan runs after him, but
Corley ignores his calls. :#entually, Corley sto"s and shows Cenehan a gold coin, a sign that the "lan was
he title of this story, >wo =allants,@ is ironic because Corley and Cenehan are anything but fine,
chi#alrous men. *nstead, they ma5e an un"leasant "ractice of du"ing maids into stealing from their
em"loyers. Af the two men, Cenehan is the more self-reflecti#e, and he "ro#ides a Euiet, contem"lati#e
balance for the burly actions of Corley, who has crafted and e6ecuted their current "lan. Cenehan is a
Dublin man Euite literally on the edge. &e has one foot on the "ath and one on the road as he wal5s with
Corley, he must bide time while Corley woos the girl, he li#es on the #erge of ban5ru"tcy, and many
consider him to be >a leech.@ 7t the age of thirty-one, Cenehan yearns for a comfortable life, but he is no
less guilty of deceit than Corley is. ,oth men lead dissolute li#es and ha#e few "ros"ects, and nothing but
easy money gi#es them ho"e. he meanderings of the story ultimately lead to the gold coin, suggesting
that for both of these men, the coin is their ultimate reward and desire.
:#en though Cenehan and Corley use betrayal to ma5e money, both men are an6ious about treachery.
Corley orchestrates his encounter with the maid defensi#ely, allowing Cenehan only distant glim"ses of
the maid for fear of com"etition. /imilarly, Cenehan "esters Corley about his choice of #ictim, worried
that the "lan will fall flat and lea#e him "enniless yet again. 1hen Corley and the maid rea""ear later
than Cenehan e6"ected, Cenehan momentarily con#inces himself that Corley has cheated him out of the
"rofits, and not until the final sentence of the story can we be certain that the men!s collaboration is intact.
his constant worry about betrayal rea""ears throughout Dubliners and always recalls *reland!s "olitical
scandal in which the "olitician 'arnell, according to his loyal followers, was abandoned by the *rish
go#ernment and many #oters when news of his affair lea5ed into the "ress. Cenehan and Corley are "art
of a generation disa""ointed after 'arnell!s downfall who now feel they ha#e no one to trust. his state of
mind leads only to further betrayal.
raditional national images connect Cenehan!s and Corley!s des"erate and shallow li#es with *reland
itself. For e6am"le, the har", a traditional symbol of *reland, a""ears in >wo =allants.@ Autside a
wealthy 7nglo-'rotestant gentleman!s club, the men "ass a har"ist who is "laying on a femini0ed, bare,
and >weary@ instrument. he har"ist!s melodies later follow Cenehan and "ace his ste"s. 1hile Corley
galli#ants with his maid, Cenehan acts as the har"ist, ta""ing his hands to the notes as he wal5s through
Dublin. his "arallel suggests that Cenehan is in some ways guilty of the same swindling as Corley, of
ta5ing ad#antage of a >woman@ in the form of his country. his ambiguous connection between Cenehan
and the har" is ty"ical of Joyce!s national references. Joyce both lea#es the inferences o"en to his readers
and continually com"licates them. 1hen Cenehan later enDoys the meager feast of "eas and ginger beer
and reflects on his directionless life, for e6am"le, his meal reflects the colors of the *rish flag ;the green
"eas and the orange ginger beer<. /uch associations lin5 the maligned life to an image of the country, but
with no conclusi#e sense of cause and effect, and no "otential for solution.
>he ,oarding &ouse@
7fter a difficult marriage with a drun5en husband that ends in se"aration, 4rs. 4ooney o"ens a boarding
house to ma5e a li#ing. &er son, Jac5, and daughter, 'olly, li#e with her in the house, which is filled with
cler5s from the city, as well as occasional tourists and musicians. 4rs. 4ooney runs a strict and tight
business and is 5nown by the lodgers as >he 4adam.@ 'olly, who used to wor5 in an office, now stays at
home at her mother!s reEuest, to amuse the lodgers and hel" with the cleaning. /urrounded by so many
young men, 'olly ine#itably de#elo"s a relationshi" with one of them, 4r. Doran. 4rs. 4ooney 5nows
about the relationshi", but instead of sending 'olly bac5 to wor5 in the city, she monitors its
de#elo"ments. 'olly becomes increasingly uncomfortable with her mother!s lac5 of inter#ention, but 4rs.
4ooney waits until >the right moment@ to intercede. First she s"ea5s aw5wardly with 'olly, then arranges
to s"ea5 with 4r. Doran on a /unday morning.
4rs. 4ooney loo5s forward to her confrontation, which she intends to >win@ by defending her daughter!s
honor and con#incing 4r. Doran to offer his hand in marriage. 1aiting for the time to "ass, 4rs. 4ooney
figures the odds are in her fa#or, considering that 4r. Doran, who has wor5ed for a wine merchant for
thirteen years and garnered much res"ect, will choose the o"tion that least harms his career.
4eanwhile, 4r. Doran anguishes o#er the im"ending meeting with 4rs. 4ooney. 7s he clumsily grooms
himself for the a""ointment, he re#iews the difficult confession to his "riest that he made on /aturday
e#ening, in which he was harshly re"ro#ed for his romantic affair. &e 5nows he can either marry 'olly or
run away, the latter an o"tion that would ruin his sound re"utation. Con#incing himself that he has been
du"ed, 4r. Doran bemoans 'olly!s unim"ressi#e family, her ill manners, and her "oor grammar, and
wonders how he can remain free and unmarried. *n this #e6ed moment 'olly enters the room and
threatens to end her life out of unha""iness. *n her "resence, 4r. Doran begins to remember how he was
bewitched by 'olly!s beauty and 5indness, but he still wa#ers about his decision.
%neasy, 4r. Doran comforts 'olly and de"arts for the meeting, lea#ing her to wait in the room. /he rests
on the bed crying for a while, neatens her a""earance, and then nestles bac5 in the bed, dreaming of her
"ossible future with 4r. Doran. Finally, 4rs. 4ooney interru"ts the re#erie by calling to her daughter.
4r. Doran, according to 4rs. 4ooney, wants to s"ea5 with 'olly.
*n >he ,oarding &ouse,@ marriage offers "romise and "rofit on the one hand, and entra"ment and loss
on the other. 1hat begins as a sim"le affair becomes a tactical game of obligation and re"aration. 4rs.
4ooney!s and 4r. Doran!s "ro"ositions and hesitations suggest that marriage is more about social
standards, "ublic "erce"tion, and formal sanctions than about mere feelings. he character of 4rs.
4ooney illustrates the challenges that a single mother of a daughter faces, but her scheme to marry 'olly
into a higher class mitigates any sym"athetic res"onse from the reader. 4rs. 4ooney may ha#e endured a
difficult marriage and se"aration, but she now carries the dubious title of >he 4adam,@ a term
suggesti#e of her scru"ulous managing of the house, but also of the head of whorehouse. 4rs. 4ooney
does, in fact, "rostitute her daughter to some degree. /he insists that 'olly lea#e her office Dob and stay at
home at the boarding house, in "art so she might entertain, howe#er innocently, the male lodgers. 1hen a
relationshi" blossoms, 4rs. 4ooney trac5s it until the most "rofitable momentBuntil she is sure 4r.
Doran, a successful cler5, must "ro"ose to 'olly out of social "ro"riety. 4rs. 4ooney Dustly insists that
men should carry the same res"onsibility as women in these casual lo#e affairs, but at the same time
"rides herself on her ability to rid herself of a de"endent daughter so easily.
4r. Doran agoni0es about the limitations and loss of res"ect that marrying beneath him will bring, but he
ultimately relents out of fear of social critiEue from his "riest, his em"loyer, 4rs. 4ooney, and 'olly!s
#iolent brother. 1hen 'olly #isits him in distress he feels as hel"less as she does, e#en though he tells her
not to worry. &e goes through the motions of what society e6"ects of him, not according to what he
intuiti#ely feels. 1hen he descends the stairs to meet with 4rs. 4ooney, he yearns to esca"e but 5nows
no one is on his side. he >force@ that "ushes him down the stairs is a force of an6iety about what others
will thin5 of him. 1hile 4r. Doran!s #ictimi0ation by 4rs. 4ooney e#o5es "ity, his self-concern and
harsh com"laints about 'olly!s un"olished bac5ground and manner of s"ea5ing ma5e him an eEual
counter"art to 4rs. 4ooney. &e worries little about 'olly!s integrity or feelings, and instead considers his
years of hard wor5 and good re"utation now #erging on destruction.
7s a "lace where >e#eryone 5nows e#eryone else!s business,@ the boarding house ser#es as a microcosm
of Dublin. Karious classes mi6 under its roof, but relationshi"s are gauged and watched, class lines are
constantly negotiated, and social standing must o#erride emotions li5e lo#e. he inhabitants are not free
to do what they choose because unstated rules of decorum go#ern life in the house, Dust as they do in the
city. /uch rules maintain order, but they also ensnare "eo"le in aw5ward situations when they ha#e
com"eting and secret interests. :#en the seemingly innocent 'olly ultimately a""ears com"licit in 4rs.
4ooney!s "lot. 7fter threatening to 5ill herself in des"air, she suddenly a""ears ha""y and unbothered
about the dilemma when she is left alone, and she 5nows 4r. Doran will com"ly with 4rs. 4ooney!s
wishes. *n >he ,oarding &ouse,@ marriage ser#es as a fi6ture of life that Dubliners cannot a#oid, and the
story shows that strategy and acce"tance are the only means of sur#i#al.
>7 Cittle Cloud@
Cittle Chandler eagerly awaits a reunion with his old friend *gnatius =allaher, who mo#ed to Condon
eight years ago. 7 married man and father who earned his nic5name from his small and delicate
de"ortment, Cittle Chandler whittles away the afternoon hours at his clerical Dob, constantly thin5ing
about his a""roaching e#ening drin5. Cittle Chandler wonders in ama0ement at =allaher!s im"ressi#e
career writing for :nglish news"a"ers, though he ne#er doubted that =allaher would do well for himself.
7s Cittle Chandler lea#es wor5 and wal5s to the bar where the men agreed to meet, he contem"lates
=allaher!s homecoming and success, then thin5s of his own stunted writing as"irations and the
"ossibilities of life abroad that remain out of his reach. Cittle Chandler used to lo#e "oetry, but he ga#e it
u" when he got married. 7s he wal5s he considers the far-fetched "ossibility of writing his own boo5 of
*n the bar, Cittle Chandler and =allaher tal5 about foreign cities, marriage, and the future. Cittle Chandler
is sur"rised to see =allaher!s unhealthy "allor and thinning hair, which =allaher blames on the stress of
"ress life. hroughout the con#ersation, during which the men consume three glasses of whis5ey and
smo5e two cigars, Cittle Chandler simultaneously recoils from and admires =allaher!s gruff manners and
tales of foreign cities. &e is dis"leased with =allaher!s "resum"tuous way of addressing others and
wonders about the immorality of a "lace li5e 'aris with its infamous dance halls. 7t the same time, he
en#ies =allaher!s worldliness and e6"erience. Cittle Chandler has settled down with a wife and has a son.
1hen he himself becomes the subDect of con#ersation, he is uneasy and blushes. &e manages to in#ite
=allaher to #isit his home and meet his family that e#ening, but =allaher e6"lains that he has another
a""ointment and must lea#e the bar soon. he men ha#e their final drin5 together, and the con#ersation
returns to and ends with =allaher and his bachelorhood. 1hen Cittle Chandler insists that =allaher will
one day marry, the Dournalist scoffs at the "ros"ect, claiming that if he does so he will marry rich, but as it
stands he is content to "lease himself with many women rather than become bored with one.
Cater that night in his house, Cittle Chandler waits for his wife to come home from the local storeB
Chandler had forgotten to bring home coffee in his flurry of e6citement about =allaher. 1hile he holds
his baby son in his arms, as directed by his wife, he ga0es at a "icture of her and recounts his con#ersation
with =allaher. %nli5e =allaher!s e6otic, "assionate mistresses, his wife a""ears cold and unfeeling,
though "retty. Chandler begins to Euestion his marriage and its tra""ingsF a >little@ house, a crying child.
Reading a "assage of ,yron stirs his longings to write, but soon his wife returns home to snatch the
screaming child from his arms and scold her husband. Cittle Chandler feels remorse for his rebellious
>7 Cittle Cloud@ ma"s the frustrated as"irations Cittle Chandler has to change his life and "ursue his
dream of writing "oetry. he story contrasts Cittle Chandler!s dissatisfaction and temerity with =allaher!s
bold writing career abroad. Cittle Chandler belie#es that to succeed in life, one must lea#e Dublin li5e
=allaher did. &owe#er, =allaher!s success is not altogether confirmed in this story, unless one measures
his success by his straightforward, unrestrained ta5e on life. Cittle Chandler com"ares himself to =allaher,
and in doing so blames his shortcomings on the restraints around him, such as Dublin, his wife, and his
child. &e hides from the truth that his as"irations to write are fanciful and shallow. $ot once in the story
does Cittle Chandler write, but he s"ends "lenty of time imagining fame and indulging in "oetic
sentiments. &e has a collection of "oetry boo5s but cannot muster the courage to read them aloud to his
wife, instead remaining intro#erted and re"eating lines to himself. &e constantly thin5s about his "ossible
career as a "oet of the Celtic school and en#isions himself lauded by :nglish critics, often to the e6tent
that he mythologi0es himself. Cittle Chandler uses his country to dream of success, but at the same time
blames it for limiting that success.
1hile dreaming of a "oetic career may "ro#ide esca"e for Cittle Chandler, the demands of wor5 and
home that ser#e as obstacles to his dreams ultimately o#erwhelm him. Ci5e other characters in Dubliners,
Cittle Chandler e6"eriences an e"i"hany that ma5es him reali0e he will ne#er change his life. Coo5ing at
a "icture of his wife after returning home from the "ub, Cittle Chandler sees the mundane life he leads
and briefly Euestions it. he screams of his child that "ierce his concentration as he tries to read "oetry
bring him to a tragic re#elation. &e 5nows he is >"risoner@ in the house. Cittle Chandler!s fleeting
resistance is li5e a little cloud that "asses in the s5y. ,y the end of the story he feels ashamed of his
disloyal beha#ior, com"leting the circle of emotions, from doubt to assurance to doubt, that he "robably
will re"eat for the rest of his life. he story finishes where it beganF with Cittle Chandler sighing about his
unreali0ed as"irations, but submitting to the melancholy thought that >it was useless to struggle against
fortune.@ Circular routine "lagues Chandler as it does for most of the characters in Dubliners.
Cittle Chandler!s inability to act on his desires and his de"endence on =allaher to "ro#ide e6"eriences he
can "artici"ate in #icariously ma5e him similar to Cenehan in >wo =allants.@ Just as Cenehan stands in
Corley!s shadow, Cittle Chandler admires and en#ies =allaher. :#en when he reali0es that =allaher
refuses his in#itation to see his home and family out of disinterest, he 5ee"s such sentiments to himself. *n
=allaher, an old friend who has done well for himself, Cittle Chandler sees the ho"e of esca"e and
success. his friendshi" sustains Cittle Chandler!s fantasies, allowing him to dream that =allaher might
submit one of his "oems to a Condon "a"er, and allowing him to feel su"erior because he has foreign
connections. 7t the same time, as the meeting at the "ub "rogresses, Cittle Chandler feels cheated by the
world since =allaher can succeed and he cannot, and so once again the friend "ro#ides a barometer to
measure and Dudge himself against. Ceft on his own with his boo5s, Cittle Chandler must face his own
*n a busy law firm, one of the "artners, 4r. 7lleyne, angrily orders the secretary to send Farrington to his
office. Farrington is a co"y cler5 in the firm, res"onsible for ma5ing co"ies of legal documents by hand,
and he has failed to "roduce an im"ortant document on time. 4r. 7lleyne taunts Farrington and says
harshly that if he does not co"y the material by closing time his incom"etence will be re"orted to the
other "artner. his meeting angers Farrington, who mentally ma5es e#ening "lans to drin5 with his
friends as a res"ite. Farrington returns to his des5 but is unable to focus on wor5. &e s5irts "ast the chief
cler5 to snea5 out to the local "ub where he Euic5ly drin5s a beer.
wo clients are s"ea5ing with the chief cler5 when Farrington returns to the office, ma5ing his absence
a""arent. he cler5 as5s him to ta5e a file to 4r. 7lleyne, who is also with a client. Farrington reali0es
that the needed file is incom"lete because he has failed to co"y two letters as reEuested. &o"ing that 4r.
7lleyne will not notice, Farrington deli#ers the incom"lete file and returns to his des5 to wor5 on his
"roDect. 7gain unable to concentrate, Farrington dreams of hot drin5s and crowded "ubs, only to reali0e,
with increasing rage, that com"leting the tas5 is im"ossible and that he has no ho"e of getting an ad#ance
on his "aychec5 to fund his thirst. 4eanwhile, 4r. 7lleyne, ha#ing noticed the missing letters, has come
to Farrington!s des5 with his client, the Do#ial 4iss Delacour, and started another abusi#e critiEue of
Farrington!s wor5. Farrington claims ignorance and wittily insults 4r. 7lleyne to the amusement of 4iss
Delacour and his fellow cler5s.
Forced to a"ologi0e to 4r. 7lleyne, Farrington lea#es wor5 without com"leting his "roDect and dreading
the sure bac5lash at the office. 4ore determined than e#er to go to the "ub, Farrington "awns his "oc5et
watch for drin5ing money. 7t his first sto" he meets his friends $osey Flynn, A!&alloran, and 'addy
Ceonard, and tells them of his shining moment insulting his boss. 7nother cler5 from the office arri#es
and Doins them, re"eating the story. /oon the men lea#e the "ub, and A!&alloran, Ceonard, and Farrington
mo#e on to another "lace. here Ceonard introduces the men to an acrobat named 1eathers, who ha""ily
acce"ts the drin5s the other men buy for him. Farrington becomes irritated at the amount of money he
s"ends, but the men 5ee" drin5ing and mo#e to yet another "ub. 1eathers meets the men there and
Farrington begrudgingly buys him another drin5 out of courtesy. Farrington!s frustrations build as he flirts
with an elegant woman sitting nearby who ultimately ignores his ad#ances. Ceonard and A!&alloran then
con#ince Farrington to arm wrestle with 1eathers, who has been boasting about his strength to the men.
7fter two attem"ts, Farrington loses.
Filled with rage and humiliation, Farrington tra#els home to /helbourne Road, a lower-middle-class area
southeast of the city center. :ntering his dar5 house, he calls to his wife 7da but is met by one of his fi#e
children, his son om. 1hen om informs him that 7da is at church, Farrington orders om to light u"
the house and "re"are dinner for him. &e then reali0es that the house fire has been left to burn out, which
means his dinner will be long in coming. 1ith his anger at boiling "oint, Farrington begins to beat om,
who "lainti#ely "romises to say a &ail 4ary for Farrington if he sto"s.
1hile many characters in Dubliners desire something, face obstacles that frustrate them, and ultimately
forfeit their desires in "aralysis, Farrington sees e#erything in the world as an obstacle to his comfort and
ne#er relents in his #itriol. he tedium of wor5 irritates Farrington first, but so does e#erything he
encounters in the story. he root of Farrington!s #iolent and e6"losi#e beha#ior is the circular e6"erience
of routine and re"etition that defines his life. Farrington!s Dob is based on du"licationBhe co"ies
documents for a demanding boss. &is Dob, in other words, is to "roduce re"lications of other things, and
the monotony of this Dob enrages him. Farrington en#isions release from such deadening acti#ity in the
warmth and drin5 of "ublic houses, but his e6"eriences there only beget further routine. &e re"eats the
story of the confrontation with 4r. 7lleyne to his friends, who then also re"eat it. Following the >round@
tradition in which each "erson in a grou" ta5es turns buying drin5s for all com"anions "resent, he
continually s"ends money and consumes more alcohol. he "resence of 1eathers, who ta5es ad#antage of
this system, ma5es Farrington reali0e how such tradition and re"etition literally rob him. &is anger
mounts throughout the story.
Farrington hurtles forward in the story without "ausing to thin5 about his actions or why he feels such
discontent. 7s a result, his circular acti#ities become more and more brutal. 1hen he loses two arm
wrestling matches to 1eathers, a >mere boy,@ he goes home only to beat his own boy. 1hat begins as
mundane co"ying, the story hints, s"ins out of control into a cycle of brutal abuse. 1hile other characters
in the collection ac5nowledge their routine li#es, struggle, then acce"t their fate "assi#ely, Farrington is
unaware and unrelenting. he title, >Counter"arts,@ refers to a co"y or du"licate of a legal "a"er, the stuff
of Farrington!s career, but also to things that are similar or eEual to each other. Farrington li#es a life of
counter"arts, to dangerous ends. &is "awning of his watch may symbolically release him from the
shac5les of schedules and time demands, but the frustrations of wor5 only ta5e on new and more e6treme
forms at the "ub and at home. For Farrington, life re"eats itselfF wor5 is li5e the "ub is li5e home. 7s
>Counter"arts@ illustrates, this bleeding between different areas of life ine#itably e6ists. 1hen maddening
routine and re"etition form the bac5bone of e6"erience, "assi#ity may result, but so too might #olatile
he abuse that other stories in Dubliners allude to becomes e6"licit in >Counter"arts,@ and the consistent
emotional theme of anger under"ins e#ery e#ent in the story. Joyce uses adDecti#es li5e hea#y, dar5, and
dirty to describe FarringtonBhe is Euite literally worn out by frustration and anger. $ot e#en the
des"erate ser#itude and "iety of his son touch him, signaling that s"irituality fails to sa#e and "rotect.
Farrington is unable to reali0e that his own actions are far worse than the moc5ing cruelty of his boss.
Joyce refers to Farrington both by his name and as >the man@ throughout the story. *n one sentence he is
the familiar character of Farrington that the reader follows throughout the story, yet in another he is >the
man@ on the street, on the train, in an office. Farrington, in a sense, acts as an e6changeable or general
ty"e, both a s"ecific man and e#eryman. Joyce!s fluid way of addressing him thus ser#es to wea#e
Farrington into the Dublin streetsca"e and suggest that his brutality is nothing unusual.
4aria, a maid at a 'rotestant charity that houses troubled women, "roudly re#iews her "re"aration for
&alloween festi#ities at her wor5"lace. Running through the e#ening!s schedule, she also loo5s forward
to her celebrations for later in the night with the family of a friend, Joe Donnelly. 4aria nursed Joe and
his brother, 7l"hy, when they were young, and both of them hel"ed 4aria get her "resent Dob. hough
4aria was at first uncomfortable with the 'rotestant association of the charity, she has grown to acce"t it
and is warmly lo#ed by the staff and residents. he time for festi#ities arri#es, and 4aria distributes the
seasonal s"iced bread, called barmbrac5, and tea. Ane of the women raises a toast to 4aria.
7fterwards, 4aria "re"ares for her Dourney to Joe!s home, admiring her a""earance in the mirror before
lea#ing her room. An her way to Joe!s, 4aria does some sho""ing. 4o#ing through the crowded streets,
she #isits two sho"s to buy ca5es for the children and a s"ecial "lum ca5e for Joe and his wife. /he boards
a crowded tram and sits ne6t to a >colonel-loo5ing gentleman@ who 5indly ma5es room for her. hey chat
casually during the ride, and at 4aria!s sto" they cordially say goodbye to each other.
7t Joe!s home, the Donnellys ha""ily greet 4aria. /he distributes the sweets to the children, but when
she goes to "resent to "lum ca5e to Joe and his wife, she cannot find the "ac5age. 4aria des"erately loo5s
e#erywhere, with no success. he Donnellys suggest that she "robably left it on the tram, which ma5es
4aria thin5 about the man, and she scolds herself for getting distracted by his "resence and for ruining
her own sur"rise gift. Joe consoles 4aria by telling her stories about his office and offering nuts and
he con#ersation turns to the "ast, and 4aria tries to say good things about 7l"hy. he brothers ha#e had
a falling out, though Joe has named his eldest son after 7l"hy. Joe grows defensi#e, and his wife attem"ts
to di#ert the matter by starting a round of traditional &alloween games. wo girls from the house ne6t
door hel" the children to arrange a table of saucers filled with different obDects and lead a blindfolded
4aria o#er to them. 4aria touches the saucer with a mound of wet clay on it, which in games of this sort
re"resents early death. Joe!s wife re"ro#es the #isiting girls, as though clay should not be an o"tion gi#en
its bad omen. 4aria reaches again and touches a "rayer boo5, forecasting a "ious life in a con#ent.
he festi#ities continue ha""ily until Joe as5s 4aria to sing for the family. 1ith 4rs. Donnelly at the
"iano, 4aria timidly sings >* Dreamt that * Dwelt,@ a "o"ular o"era aria written by an *rish nineteenth-
century com"oser. 4aria sings the first stan0a twice, but no one "oints out her mista5e. Joe is #isibly
mo#ed to tears and, to co#er u" his reaction, as5s his wife where the cor5screw is.
%nli5e the female "rotagonists in earlier stories, 4aria does not confront decisions and situations with
large conseEuences, but rather those whose conseEuences seem small or e#en none6istent. $othing much
seems to ha""en in this story, and its inaction stands out e#en more since it follows the #iolent
>Counter"arts@ in the collection. 4aria illustrates the Euiet life of a single maid, whose s"otless re"utation
as >a #eritable "eace-ma5er@ attests to her "lacid lifestyle. he e6citement with which the Donnelly
family greets her shows that outside of wor5 she is eEually lo#ed. 4aria is a small, gentle woman whose
continuous laughter brings the ti" of her nose to touch her chinBas though she loses herself in her Doy.
&owe#er, the e#ents in >Clay,@ though Euiet, are far from innocuous. :#en 4aria, with her serene life,
harbors unha""iness and frustration, and instead of being e6em"t from the tedium of routine, she is in fact
entrenched in it.
4aria has such little conflict and so few #aried e6"eriences that the smallest details of daily li#ing ha#e
become the focus of her energies, and these details deaden her life. For 4aria, e#erything demands
organi0ation and "recision. /he fastidiously su"er#ises the distribution of food "ortions at the charity, she
"rides herself on her neat and tidy body, and she re"eatedly di#ides u" the minutes she will schedule for
tra#eling and sho""ing for the e#ening at Joe!s. 4aria intends for her attention to minute details to create
order and clarity in her life, but such rigidity actually encourages frustration and emotional reactions that
are out of "ro"ortion to the situation at hand. 1hen she reali0es that she has mis"laced the "lum ca5e, she
is so furious with herself and her carelessness that she almost cries. %nli5e :#eline, who feels numb to
the loss of her lo#er and a "otential new life, 4aria feels acute emotions o#er e#ents that are far more
tri#ial. >Clay@ demonstrates that 4aria!s res"onses are Dust as restraining as :#eline!s. 4aria most li5ely
focuses intently on life!s small details in order to a#oid greater "ains. Joe e6hibits the same beha#iorF &e
co#ers u" his mysterious, tearful reaction to 4aria!s song by as5ing his wife to show him where an
ordinary household item is. 'reoccu"ation with such tri#ial matters hel"s to re"ress the more difficult
as"ects of life. he reader ne#er 5nows what mo#es Joe, nor what 4aria might feel on dee"er le#els.
he title >Clay@ draws attention to 4aria!s fateful selection of clay in the &alloween game and a""lies
that symbolism of early death to the story as a whole. Rather than im"lying a literal death, the clay casts
4aria!s une#entful, detail-oriented life as a meta"horical early death. Clay also suggests the state of
4aria and her life u" to that moment. Ci5e the "aralytic Father Flynn from >he /isters,@ 4aria ho#ers in
a state between li#ing and dying where engagement with her surroundings cannot mo#e beyond a
su"erficial, material le#el. Ci5e Farrington in >Counter"arts,@ she fails to recogni0e the tedious routine of
her days, as her re"etition of the song suggests. 4aria does not acti#ely sha"e her e6"erience in
significant ways, but instead she allows it to sha"e her. he image of her face colla"sing into itself in
laughter im"lies that 4aria in her blind ha""iness is moldable and soft, li5e clay. 4aria chooses the
"rayer boo5 after the clay, which suggests she might find esca"e in the cloistered life of a con#ent.
1hether 4aria esca"es or not, some "art of her will die. /he will lose her #ibrancy to the dullness of
routine, or she will lose the life she 5nows for one that is unfamiliar.
>7 'ainful Case@
7 "redictable, unad#enturous ban5 cashier, 4r. Duffy li#es an e6istence of "rudence and organi0ation. &e
5ee"s a tidy house, eats at the same restaurants, and ma5es the same daily commute. Accasionally, 4r.
Duffy allows himself an e#ening out at the o"era or a concert, and on one of these e#enings he engages in
a con#ersation with another audience member, 4rs. /inico, a stri5ing woman who sits with her young
daughter. /ubseEuent encounters ensue at other concerts, and on the third occasion 4r. Duffy sets u" a
time and day to meet "ur"osely with her. ,ecause 4rs. /inico is married and her husband, a ca"tain of a
merchant shi", is constantly away from home, 4r. Duffy feels slightly uncomfortable with the clandestine
nature of the relationshi". $e#ertheless, they continue to meet, always at her home.
heir discussions re#ol#e around their similar intellectual interests, including boo5s, "olitical theories,
and music, and with each meeting they draw more closely together. /uch sharing gradually softens 4r.
Duffy!s hard character. &owe#er, during one of their meetings, 4rs. /inico ta5es 4r. Duffy!s hand and
"laces it on her chee5, which dee"ly bothers 4r. Duffy. &e feels 4rs. /inico has misinter"reted his acts
of com"anionshi" as se6ual ad#ances. *n res"onse, he cuts off the relationshi", first by sto""ing his #isits
and then by arranging a final meeting at a ca5e sho" in Dublin, deliberately not at 4rs. /inico!s home.
hey agree to end the relationshi", but 4rs. /inico!s emotional "resence at this meeting suggests she is
less willing to say goodbye than is 4r. Duffy.
Four years "ass. Ane e#ening, during his usual dinner in town, 4r. Duffy reads a news"a"er article that
sur"rises him enough to halt his eating and hurry home. here, he reads the article, entitled >7 'ainful
Case,@ once more. he article recounts the death of 4rs. /inico, who was hit by a train at a station in
Dublin the "re#ious e#ening. 1itness accounts and the coroner!s inEuest deem that the death was caused
by shoc5 or heart failure, and not inDuries from the train itself. he article also e6"lains that 4rs. /inico
was a drin5er and had become increasingly detached from her husband o#er the "ast two years. he
article concludes with the statement that no one is res"onsible for her death.
he news of 4rs. /inico!s death at first angers but later saddens 4r. Duffy. 'erha"s sus"ecting suicide or
wea5ness in character, he feels disgusted by her death and by his connection to her life. Disturbed, he
lea#es his home to #isit a local "ub, where he drin5s and remembers his relationshi" with her. &is anger
begins to subside, and by the time he lea#es to wal5 home, he feels dee" remorse, mainly for ending the
relationshi" and losing the "otential for com"anionshi" it offered. %"on seeing a "air of lo#ers in the "ar5
by his home, 4r. Duffy reali0es that he ga#e u" the only lo#e he!d e6"erienced in life. &e feels utterly
,ecause 4r. Duffy cannot tolerate un"redictability, his relationshi" with 4rs. /inico is a disru"tion to his
orderly life that he 5nows he must eliminate, but which he ultimately fails to control. 4rs. /inico
awa5ens welcome new emotions in 4r. Duffy, but when she ma5es an intimate gesture he reacts with
sur"rise and rigidity. hough all along he s"o5e of the im"ossibility of sharing one!s self and the
ine#itability of loneliness, 4rs. /inico!s gesture suggests that another truth e6ists, and this truth frightens
4r. Duffy. 7cce"ting 4rs. /inico!s offered truth, which o"ens the "ossibility for lo#e and dee" feeling,
would mean changing his life entirely, which 4r. Duffy cannot do. &e resumes his solitary life with some
relief. 1hen 4r. Duffy reads of 4rs. /inico!s death four years later, he reacts with shoc5 and disgust, as
he did when 4rs. /inico touched his hand. 4rs. /inico!s dramatic demise "oints to a de"th of feeling she
"ossessed that 4r. Duffy will ne#er understand or share, and it "ro#ides 4r. Duffy with an e"i"hany as he
wal5s home. &e reali0es that his concern with order and rectitude shut her out of his life, and that this
concern e6cludes him from li#ing fully. Ci5e other characters in Dubliners who e6"erience e"i"hanies,
4r. Duffy is not ins"ired to begin a new "hase in his life, but instead he bitterly acce"ts his loneliness.
>7 'ainful Case@ concludes where it begins, with 4r. Duffy alone. his narrati#e circle mimics the many
routines that com"rise 4r. Duffy!s life and deny him true com"anionshi". he story o"ens with a detailed
de"iction of 4r. Duffy!s unadorned home in a neighborhood he chose for its distance from the hustle and
bustle of Dublin. Colors are limited and walls are bare in 4r. Duffy!s house, and disorder, s"ontaneity,
and "assion are unwelcome. 7s such, 4r. Duffy!s house ser#es as a microcosm of his soul. &is regulatory
im"ulses ma5e each day the same as the ne6t. /uch deadening re"etiti#eness ultimately brings 4r. Duffy
death in lifeF the death of someone who once stirred his longings to be with others. *n life, 4rs. /inico
in#igorated 4r. Duffy!s routine and, through her intimacy, came close to warming his cold heart. Anly in
death, howe#er, does she succeed in re#ealing his cycle of solitude to him. he tragedy of this story is
threefold. First, 4r. Duffy must face a dramatic death before he can rethin5 his lifestyle and outloo5.
/econd, ac5nowledging the "roblems in his lifestyle ma5es him reali0e his cul"abilityF 4rs. /inico died
of a bro5en heart that he caused. hird, and "erha"s most tragic, 4r. Duffy will not change the life he has
created for himself. &e is "araly0ed, des"ite his re#elations and his guilt.
Joyce!s choice of symbolic names in >7 'ainful Case@ articulates the story!s somber subDect of thwarted
lo#e and loneliness. Duffyderi#es from the *rish word for dar5, suggesting the grim, solemn mood in
which the story unfolds and 4r. Duffy li#es. he suburb in which 4r. Duffy resides, Cha"eli0od, ta5es its
name from the French, Cha"el d!*seult. *seult is half of the famed set of lo#ers, ristan and *seult, whose
doomed affair ran5s as one of the most iconic lo#e stories in literature and music. his name!s a""earance
in the story as 4r. Duffy!s home neighborhood, which he "ur"osely chose in order to distance himself
from Dublin!s hustle and bustle and which is the starting "oint for his daily routine, connects the
unreEuited lo#e and death of 4rs. /inico with 4r. Duffy!s restrained e6istence.
>*#y Day in the Committee Room@
An *#y Day, a grou" of "olitical can#assers wor5ing for a mayoral candidate in the city council elections
gather in the $ational 'arty committee room to warm u" from the cold, drin5 together, tal5 "olitics, and
await their wage "ayment. *#y Day, Actober 9, commemorates the "olitician Charles /tuart 'arnell!s
death in 18 (1, and 'arnell!s "resence "er#ades this story. 4at A!Connor, one of the can#assers, sits and
smo5es as Ald Jac5, the "orter of the building, tends to a dwindling fire and tells A!Connor about his son.
,oth men are em"loyed by Richard ierney, a "ub owner who is running for the office of Cord 4ayor in
the u"coming elections. 7nother man, Joe &ynes, Doins the two men, but he does not wor5 for ierney. &e
is dee"ly critical of the candidate, sus"ecting him of being sym"athetic to the ,ritish e#en though he runs
as a $ationalist, the "arty that su""orts an inde"endent *reland. 7nother can#asser, John &enchy, also
Doins the grou". &e coolly ac5nowledges the "resence of &ynes and re#iews the day!s cam"aigning
efforts with A!Connor before he too launches into a critiEue of the candidate, though for his tardiness in
"aying em"loyees li5e himself rather than the candidate!s "olitical leanings.
&ynes lea#es, and following his e6it &enchy e6"resses his sus"icions that &ynes is an informer for
Colgan, the wor5ing-class candidate running against ierney. A!Connor gently deflects the comment, but,
encouraged by Ald Jac5, &enchy continues with his cons"iracy theory that such informers "robably wor5
for the ,ritish. &e ma5es a connection between &ynes and the infamous &enry Charles /irr, an *rishman
who, as an officer in the ,ritish 7rmy, hel"ed to su""ress *rish u"risings against the ,ritish in the late
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. 7nother man, Father ?eon, soon a""ears in the doorway
loo5ing for someone who is not in the room, and scurries off to ierney!s "ub to find the man. &enchy
and A!Connor chat about the "riest, who has a re"utation for being a >blac5 shee",@ unattached to any
church or institution.
he men then turn the tal5 to drin5, and &enchy com"lains that ierney had "romised to send some stout
to the room that has yet to arri#e. /oon thereafter, though, a boy a""ears bearing bottles from the "ub, and
&enchy e6claims that ierney 5ee"s to his word. wo more can#assers named Crofton and Cyons arri#e.
&enchy turns the discussion bac5 to "olitics, ma5ing clear his su""ort of ierney!s catch-all a""roach of
su""orting >whate#er will benefit his country,@ e#en the welcome of the :nglish 5ing, which, he argues,
would boost the local economy. A!Connor counterargues, noting that the $ational 'arty under 'arnell
would ne#er "lace ca"ital o#er "olitical theory, a "oint that &enchy meets with a sim"le >'arnell is dead.@
Cyons bac5s A!Connor, as does Crofton, s"urring &enchy to laud 'arnell as well. 7t this moment, &ynes
returns, and A!Connor as5s him to read a "oem he wrote, entitled >he Death of 'arnell.@ he "oem
celebrates 'arnell and "aints him as a man betrayed by treachery. 7ll of the men a""laud the recitation.
>*#y Day in the Committee Room@ mourns the state of *rish "olitics and "eo"le!s inability to maintain
consistent beliefs. he grou" of men gathering in the once-acti#e and "romising room of the $ational
'arty, which used to be 'arnell!s headEuarters, show little enthusiasm for the candidate they a""arently
su""ort, but instead bic5er about tri#ial things. he >Committee Room@ in the title connects this scene of
atro"hy to the betrayal of 'arnell. he Committee Room in Condon was where *rish "oliticians chose not
to su""ort 'arnell as a leader in December 18 (). his e#ent destroyed 'arnell!s career, and, this story
suggests, the morale and ho"es of the ne6t generation as well. 8et these men, "articularly &enchy,
demonstrate wa#ering beliefs that show they too are guilty of betrayal. >*#y Day in the Committee Room@
re#eals how the "ast sha"es the "resent, but also how those li#ing in the "resent fail to correct or atone for
"ast wrongs.
he men in the story dwell on the "ast so much that almost no constructi#e action ta5es "lace. he story
o"ens with Ald Jac5 telling A!Connor about his drun5en, disloyal son, which from a broader "ers"ecti#e
suggests that the "olitical successors to 'arnell do Dust that to their "olitical >father@F com"licate and
disregard rather than su""ort. he commemorati#e title of the story highlights that on this s"ecial day,
these men remain inacti#e. *#y Day honors 'arnell!s death and ta5es its name from the loyal Dubliners
who, at 'arnell!s funeral, wore the i#y growing by his gra#e in their la"els. *n the story, both A!Connor
and &ynes wear i#y in memory of 'arnell, but they in#ol#e themsel#es only in "etty "olitics, if they
in#ol#e themsel#es at all. &ynes turns u" in the room to critiEue ierney and "lant seeds of dissent, and
A!Connor shrugs off his Dob. &e can#assesBor, rather, fails to can#assBfor a candidate he seems to care
little about, since he sits inside to a#oid "romoting in the inclement weather. A!Connor also lights his
cigarettes by burning the information cards he is meant to hand out, e#en when offered a match. &is
dedication to su""orting ierney, the new $ationalist candidate, could not be any wea5er.
he men in the committee room, the story suggests, are "araly0ed in a cycle of inacti#ity and
eEui#ocation. &enchy, by far the worst offender, harshly critici0es ierney, whom he calls >ric5y
Dic5y,@ and also su""orts him energetically. &enchy continually switches his allegiance. 7t one moment
he bemoans ierney!s em"ty "romise to send beer, while in the ne6t moment he defends ierney!s sense
of honor and recites his "romotional s"eech, in which he lauds ierney for being attached to no "olitical
"arty. he a""earance of Father ?eon indicates that this inability to de#ote oneself to a cause also a""lies
to religion. Coo5ing li5e >a "oor clergyman or a "oor actor,@ this ambi#alent, ambiguous figure ho#ers on
the threshold of the door, neither committing himself to the room nor remo#ing himself from it. he
"riest, unattached to any church and uncertain of where he stands, suggests the distrust that e6ists in any
belief system, whether s"iritual or "olitical. he story, set in the wa5e of *rish "olitical colla"se, hints that
uncertainty defines the times.
&ynes!s "oetic recitation is the one moment of tribute in the story, and it stirs the men into Euiet reflection
on their unremar5able contribution to "olitics. 7fter they a""laud &ynes, the men sit in silence, res"ect,
and, "erha"s, guilt. &ynes!s words, howe#er grandiose, call for 'arnell!s s"irit to rise again in *reland, but
the men of >*#y Day in the Committee Room@ reali0e at this moment that they are not the ones to lead the
charge. *nstead, they will sit year after year, im"otently wearing their i#y. he story mourns the death of
'arnell, but it also mourns the death of firm "olitical o"inion in general.
>7 4other@
7s the assistant secretary to the :ire 7bu, or >*reland to Kictory,@ /ociety, 4r. &olohan tries to organi0e a
series of concerts showcasing local musicians. &e finally #isits 4rs. ?earney, whose eldest daughter
?athleen has a re"utation in Dublin as a talented "ianist and e6em"lary s"ea5er of *rish. ?athleen studies
the "iano and French in a con#ent school li5e 4rs. ?earney did, and she recei#es tutoring in *rish at the
insistence of her mother as well. 4rs. ?earney is not sur"rised when 4r. &olohan "ro"oses that ?athleen
"erform as an accom"anist in the series, and she ad#ises 4r. &olohan in drawing u" a contract to secure a
"ayment of eight guineas for ?athleen!s "erformance in the four concerts. =i#en 4r. &olohan!s
ine6"erience in organi0ing such an e#ent, she also hel"s him to lay out the "rogram and com"lete other
7fter her efforts, 4rs. ?earney is disturbed when the concerts turn out to be sub-"ar for her high
standards. he first two concerts are "oorly attended, the audience members beha#e >indecorously,@ and
many of the artists are mediocre. 4rs. ?earney com"lains to 4r. &olohan, but neither he nor the head
secretary, 4r. Fit0"atric5, a""ear bothered by the turnout. $e#ertheless, the /ociety!s committee cancels
the third concert in ho"es that doing so will boost attendance for the final one. his change in "lans
infuriates 4rs. ?earney, who already has become aggra#ated by the men!s la6 attitudes and what she sees
as loose manners. /he a""roaches 4r. &olohan and insists that such a change should not alter the
contracted "ayment, but 4r. &olohan only refers her to 4r. Fit0"atric5, who also dodges her inEuiries.
An the night of the final concert, 4rs. ?earney, accom"anied by her husband and ?athleen, arri#es early
at the "erformance hall to meet the men, but neither 4r. &olohan nor 4r. Fit0"atric5 has arri#ed. 7s the
musicians gather and await curtain call, 4rs. ?earney "aces in the dressing room until finally she finds
4r. &olohan and, following him to a Euiet hallway, "ursues the issue of the contract. 7gain he insists that
such matters are not his >business@ and that she must consult 4r. Fit0"atric5. :nraged, she returns to the
dressing room, where the musicians wait for ?athleen to Doin them so they can start the "erformance, for
which the audience loudly clamors. 4rs. ?earney detains her daughter, and when 4r. &olohan arri#es to
Euery the delay in "erformance, she announces that ?athleen will not "erform unless "aid in full. 4r.
&olohan de"arts in haste and returns with 4r. Fit0"atric5, who gi#es 4rs. ?earney half of the amount,
e6"laining that the remainder will come at the intermission, after ?athleen!s "erformance. ?athleen "lays,
during which time the artists and committee members critici0e 4rs. ?earney!s aggressi#e conduct. 7t the
intermission, 4r. Fit0"atric5 and 4r. &olohan inform 4rs. ?earney that they will "ay her daughter the
balance after the committee meeting ne6t wee5. ,ut 4rs. ?earney angrily bic5ers with 4r. &olohan and
finally whis5s away her daughter, lea#ing the concert hall.
*n >7 4other,@ 4rs. ?earney!s "ractical but infle6ible a""roach to life, while it gets her what she wants
most of the time, ultimately does nothing but increase her own anger. 4rs. ?earney dri#es herself to
accom"lish whate#er tas5, challenge, or need is at hand, often without much show of emotion. /he
marries her husband Dust to be married, not because of lo#e. *n her unyielding insistence that her daughter,
?athleen, recei#e full "ayment for her "erformance, 4rs. ?earney "ursues her interests to such a degree
that she undoes her own efforts to "erfect the concert, and herself. 1hen the organi0ers "ro#ide only half
of the fee, 4rs. ?earney embarrasses her daughter and ruins her career by swee"ing her out of the concert
hall and irritating e#eryone. 4rs. ?earney is not concerned with a trifling amount of money, she insists,
but her rights and her res"ect. he story lea#es the reader guessing why 4rs. ?earney abandons her cause
and lea#es the concert hall. *s she humiliatedL Does she reali0e that no one shares or sym"athi0es with her
frustrationsL Ci5e >an angry stone,@ 4rs. ?earney will not soften to the circumstances and reconsider.
Ci5e other characters in Dubliners,she will continue to li#e according to her own routine.
hrough the fastidious character of 4rs. ?earney, >7 4other@ subtly critiEues shallow concerns about
social "rofile. 4rs. ?earney!s immense efforts to organi0e and "erfect are not moti#ated by an ambition
to succeed, the story suggests, but by a concern with status and a""earance. /he crafts an education for
?athleen of "iano, French, and *rish, which ma5es ob#ious the family!s interest in culture and nationalist
efforts. he concert "ro#ides 4rs. ?earney with an ideal o""ortunity to let ?athleen shine as a darling of
*rish culture, but her frustrations with the la6 society members and her com"laints about the #enue and
selection of artists indicate that 4rs. ?earney obsesses o#er details to ensure neither ?athleen!s ha""y
career nor a successful concert, but her own res"ected a""earance. 7s more things sully her ideal #ision,
4rs. ?earney ma5es snide obser#ations to herself and struggles to maintain her com"osure. 1hen she
a""roaches 4r. Fit0"atric5 about the contract, she inwardly ridicules his accent, which she "ercei#es to be
lower class, but she resists ma5ing nasty comments about it, which would >not be ladyli5e.@ *n the end,
4rs. ?earney!s attem"t to boost her social a""earance results only in her tarnishing it dramatically.
4rs. ?earney "ercei#es herself as "art of a struggle between men and women, noting to herself when she
begins to face difficulty with the contract that she would be treated differently if she were a man. his
concern briefly "laces 4rs. ?earney in a sym"athetic light and leads the reader to Euestion 4rs.
?earney!s circumstances. 8et while 4r. Fit0"atric5 and 4r. &olohan a""ear la0y and uninterested in the
concert "roceedings, nothing in their actions suggests that they ta5e ad#antage of 4rs. ?earney. *n fact,
they struggle to "ro#ide the demanded "ayment for ?athleen. Ci5e 4rs. 4ooney in >he ,oarding
&ouse,@ a female "rotagonist challenges the reader to consider her "light in a larger social conte6t. 4rs.
?earney wants to ensure her adeEuate rights, but she also must a""ear ladyli5eBfor her, the combination
is incom"atible.
7 man has fallen down a flight a stairs in a central Dublin "ub and is briefly unconscious. wo men and a
"ub em"loyee carry the man u"stairs, and they, along with the manager and the crowd already assembled
in the bar, try to figure out what ha""ened. he manager calls a "oliceman to the scene, but when the
officer arri#es he offers little hel". 7 bystander succeeds in resuscitating the inDured man, who says his
name is om ?ernan. ,arely able to answer any Euestions, 4r. ?ernan "re"ares to lea#e when a friend of
his, Jac5 'ower, emerges from the crowd and escorts him to a carriage. During the ride home, 4r. ?ernan
shows 4r. 'ower that he inDured his tongue in the fall, and as such is unable to s"ea5 and e6"lain the
accident. his e#ent reflects 4r. ?ernan!s recent fortunesF he used to be an esteemed businessman but has
recently hit a rough "atch. 7fter the carriage arri#es at the house and 4r. ?ernan goes to bed, 4r. 'ower
chats with the children and 4rs. ?ernan. &e mentally notes to himself the lower-class accents of the
children, Dust as 4rs. ?ernan begins to lament her husband!s neglectful beha#ior. 4r. 'ower assures her
that he will hel" 4r. ?ernan to reform.
he final and third section of >=race@ occurs at the Jesuit Church ser#ice and focuses on the words of the
officiating "riest, Father 'urdon. 4r. Cunningham, 4r. ?ernan, 4r. 4!Coy, 4r. 'ower, and 4r. Fogarty
sit near each other in the "ews, which are filled with men from all wal5s of Dublin life, including
"awnbro5ers and news"a"er re"orters. From the red-lit "ul"it, Father 'urdon "reaches to them, he claims,
as businessman to businessman, as the >s"iritual accountant@ to the congregation before him. he ser#ice,
in turn, is a chance for rec5oning, and he as5s the men to tally u" their sins and com"are them to their
clean or guilty consciences. ,oth those whose accounts balance and those whose show discre"ancies will
be sa#ed by =od!s grace, as long as they stri#e to rectify their faults.7fter two nights, a grou" of 4r.
?ernan!s friends #isit the house in order to con#ince 4r. ?ernan to Doin them in a Catholic retreat, or
cleansing ser#ice. he challenge lies in the fact that 4r. ?ernan is a former 'rotestant who con#erted to
Catholicism for his wife and has ne#er warmly acce"ted his new church. 4r. 'ower, 4r. Cunningham,
and 4r. 4!Coy s"end their #isit at first tal5ing about 4r. ?ernan!s accident and his health, ta5ing time to
com"lain about the ineffecti#e "oliceman at the bar. hen they gradually re#eal their "lans for the retreat
and turn the discussion to religion. 4r. Fogarty, who runs a neighboring grocery, Doins the grou", and they
all "raise the *rish "riesthood and nineteenth-century "o"es. 4r. ?ernan follows along, contributes, and
e#entually agrees to Doin the retreat, with one e6ce"tionF he refuses to light any candles as "art of the
ser#ice, e6"laining that he does not belie#e in magic.
*n >=race,@ a framewor5 of fall, con#ersion, and redem"tion re#eals the com"licated role of religion in
Dubliners! li#es. he three se"arate sections of the narrati#e ser#e to undermine the "rocess of
redem"tion. *n the first section, 4r. ?ernan ser#es, Euite literally, as the >fallen man.@ &is disastrous
accident at the "ub a""arently is "art of a downward s"iral he has been e6"eriencing and remains a
mystery in the story. 4r. ?ernan can remember only that he was with two men in the bar, but claims no
other recollection of the e#ent. 4r. ?ernan "robably hides the truth out of embarrassment, forcing the
reader to "ull together the hints that suggest he was drun5 and abandoned by his com"anions. his
"u00ling start to the story ma5es the steadfast efforts of 4r. ?ernan!s friends to hel" him all the more
strange. 1e don!t 5now what!s wrong with 4r. ?ernan or why he needs hel". he story com"licates this
seeming goodwill by re#ealing the unsu""orti#e tendencies of friends li5e 4r. 'ower, who inwardly
grimaces about the lower-class u"bringing of the ?ernan children. hat 4r. 'ower recoils from certain
status signs suggests that his concern for others stems from his concern for his own re"utation.
he second section of the narrati#e treats 4r. ?ernan!s con#ersion, and Joyce undermines this "rocess by
showing the men attem"ting to con#ince 4r. ?ernan to Doin the retreat with inaccurate details about
Catholic church history. he men discuss the su""osedly uns"otted history of the Jesuits, trying to boost
4r. ?ernan!s #iew of the church, and deflect 4r. ?ernan!s com"laint about "ro#incial "riests by claiming
that >MtNhe *rish "riesthood is honoured all the world o#er.@ 1hen 4r. Fogarty arri#es, the men begin to
discuss the illuminated career of the nineteenth-century 'o"e Ceo O***, but they do so by misusing a
#ariety of Catin terms. 4r. Cunningham, by far the most #erbose of the grou", attem"ts to recount the
Church debate o#er "a"al infallibility, but he ma5es mista5es as well. he "oint of the scene is not the
s"ecific errors, but the men!s reliance on big terms and names to ma5e themsel#es a""ear serious and
"ious. 7s such, 4r. ?ernan!s con#ersion is something of a sham.
4r. ?ernan!s >cleansing@ in the final section of the narrati#e ne#er really occurs. &e arri#es at the church
and listens to the "riest, but the story does not follow his rise from the fall. *nstead, the many
contradictions in the ser#ice are highlighted, which ser#es to critiEue the church as a "lace of healing.
Father 'urdon shares his name with the name of the street that is home to the red-light district, or
"rostitution area, of Dublin, and his "ul"it shines with a red light as though he is a beacon of sin, not
redem"tion. he "rogression in the story from fall to redem"tion, then, stalls and halts. >=race@ seems to
as5 how far indeed is the distance between the bottom of the stairs in the "ub and the "ews in the church.
he conclusion of the story assures the men that grace can sa#e them from sin, but the word grace has
multi"le meanings. *t can refer to the Euality of "oise or "oliteness. *t can also refer to a granted delay or
"ost"onement, such as a grace "eriod gi#en to a debtor who owes money. *t might sometimes refer to the
unconditional fa#or of =od granted to humans that enables them to be sa#ed. 7ll of these meanings
surface to some e6tent in this story and ser#e to "oint out how sim"le e#ents become infused with
s"iritual significance, and not always to useful ends. 4r. ?ernan himself embodies the word grace
ironically, as he is literally a man who has no "oise. &is friends, howe#er, inter"ret this fall as indicating a
lac5 of =od!s grace. he story concludes with Father 'urdon!s assurance that e#en the fallen man can be
sa#ed with the hel" of =od!s grace, but the "riest uses the economic language of accounting to
communicate his thoughts to the congregation of businessmen. Rec5oning with oneself, then, acts as a
"eriod of grace, yet none of the men in the story come to terms with themsel#es. /earching for grace
becomes yet another re"etiti#e cycle for these Dubliners.
>he Dead@
7t the annual dance and dinner "arty held by ?ate and Julia 4or5an and their young niece, 4ary Jane
4or5an, the housemaid Cily frantically greets guests. /et at or Dust before the feast of the :"i"hany on
January 9, which celebrates the manifestation of Christ!s di#inity to the 4agi, the "arty draws together a
#ariety of relati#es and friends. ?ate and Julia "articularly await the arri#al of their fa#orite ne"hew,
=abriel Conroy, and his wife, =retta. 1hen they arri#e, =abriel attem"ts to chat with Cily as she ta5es his
coat, but she sna"s in re"ly to his Euestion about her lo#e life. =abriel ends the uncomfortable e6change
by gi#ing Cily a generous ti", but the e6"erience ma5es him an6ious. &e rela6es when he Doins his aunts
and =retta, though =retta!s good-natured teasing about his dedication to galoshes irritates him. hey
discuss their decision to stay at a hotel that e#ening rather than ma5e the long tri" home. he arri#al of
another guest, the always-drun5 Freddy 4alins, disru"ts the con#ersation. =abriel ma5es sure that Freddy
is fit to Doin the "arty while the guests chat o#er drin5s in between ta5ing brea5s from the dancing. 7n
older gentleman, 4r. ,rowne, flirts with some young girls, who dodge his ad#ances. =abriel steers a
drun5en Freddy toward the drawing room to get hel" from 4r. ,rowne, who attem"ts to sober Freddy u".
he "arty continues with a "iano "erformance by 4ary Jane. 4ore dancing follows, which finds =abriel
"aired u" with 4iss *#ors, a fellow uni#ersity instructor. 7 fer#ent su""orter of *rish culture, 4iss *#ors
embarrasses =abriel by labeling him a >1est ,riton@ for writing literary re#iews for a conser#ati#e
news"a"er. =abriel dismisses the accusation, but 4iss *#ors "ushes the "oint by in#iting =abriel to #isit
the 7ran *sles, where *rish is s"o5en, during the summer. 1hen =abriel declines, e6"laining that he has
arranged a cycling tri" on the continent, 4iss *#ors corners him about his lac5 of interest in his own
country. =abriel e6claims that he is sic5 of *reland. 7fter the dance, he flees to a corner and engages in a
few more con#ersations, but he cannot forget the interlude with 4iss *#ors.
Just before dinner, Julia sings a song for the guests. 4iss *#ors ma5es her e6it to the sur"rise of 4ary
Jane and =retta, and to the relief of =abriel. Finally, dinner is ready, and =abriel assumes his "lace at the
head of the table to car#e the goose. 7fter much fussing, e#eryone eats, and finally =abriel deli#ers his
s"eech, in which he "raises ?ate, Julia, and 4ary Jane for their hos"itality. Framing this Euality as an
*rish strength, =abriel laments the "resent age in which such hos"itality is under#alued. $e#ertheless, he
insists, "eo"le must not linger on the "ast and the dead, but li#e and reDoice in the "resent with the li#ing.
he table brea5s into a loud a""lause for =abriel!s s"eech, and the entire "arty toasts their three hostesses.
Cater, guests begin to lea#e, and =abriel recounts a story about his grandfather and his horse, which
fore#er wal5ed in circles e#en when ta5en out of the mill where it wor5ed. 7fter finishing the anecdote,
=abriel reali0es that =retta stands transfi6ed by the song that 4r. ,artell D!7rcy sings in the drawing
room. 1hen the music sto"s and the rest of the "arty guests assemble before the door to lea#e, =retta
remains detached and thoughtful. =abriel is enamored with and "reoccu"ied by his wife!s mysterious
mood and recalls their courtshi" as they wal5 from the house and catch a cab into Dublin.
7t the hotel, =abriel grows irritated by =retta!s beha#ior. /he does not seem to share his romantic
inclinations, and in fact bursts into tears. =retta confesses that she has been thin5ing of the song from the
"arty because a former lo#er had sung it to her in her youth in =alway. =retta recounts the sad story of
this boy, 4ichael Furey, who died after waiting outside of her window in the cold. =retta later falls
aslee", but =abriel remains awa5e, disturbed by =retta!s new information. &e curls u" on the bed,
contem"lating his own mortality. /eeing the snow at the window, he en#isions it blan5eting the gra#eyard
where 4ichael Furey rests, as well as all of *reland.
*n >he Dead,@ =abriel Conroy!s restrained beha#ior and his re"utation with his aunts as the ne"hew who
ta5es care of e#erything mar5 him as a man of authority and caution, but two encounters with women at
the "arty challenge his confidence. First, =abriel clumsily "ro#o5es a defensi#e statement from the
o#erwor5ed Cily when he as5s her about her lo#e life. *nstead of a"ologi0ing or e6"laining what he
meant, =abriel Euic5ly ends the con#ersation by gi#ing Cily a holiday ti". &e blames his "restigious
education for his inability to relate to ser#ants li5e Cily, but his willingness to let money s"ea5 for him
suggests that he relies on the comforts of his class to maintain distance. he encounter with Cily shows
that =abriel, li5e his aunts, cannot tolerate a >bac5 answer,@ but he is unable to a#oid such challenges as
the "arty continues. During his dance with 4iss *#ors, he faces a barrage of Euestions about his
none6istent nationalist sym"athies, which he doesn!t 5now how to answer a""ro"riately. %nable to
com"ose a full res"onse, =abriel blurts out that he is sic5 of his own country, sur"rising 4iss *#ors and
himself with his unmeasured res"onse and his loss of control.
=abriel!s unease culminates in his tense night with =retta, and his final encounter with her ultimately
forces him to confront his stony #iew of the world. 1hen he sees =retta transfi6ed by the music at the
end of the "arty, =abriel yearns intensely to ha#e control of her strange feelings. hough =abriel
remembers their romantic courtshi" and is o#ercome with attraction for =retta, this attraction is rooted
not in lo#e but in his desire to control her. 7t the hotel, when =retta confesses to =abriel that she was
thin5ing of her first lo#e, he becomes furious at her and himself, reali0ing that he has no claim on her and
will ne#er be >master.@ 7fter =retta falls aslee", =abriel softens. $ow that he 5nows that another man
"receded him in =retta!s life, he feels not Dealousy, but sadness that 4ichael Furey once felt an aching
lo#e that he himself has ne#er 5nown. Reflecting on his own controlled, "assionless life, he reali0es that
life is short, and those who lea#e the world li5e 4ichael Furey, with great "assion, in fact li#e more fully
than "eo"le li5e himself.
he holiday setting of :"i"hany em"hasi0es the "rofoundness of =abriel!s difficult awa5ening that
concludes the story and the collection. =abriel e6"eriences an inward change that ma5es him e6amine his
own life and human life in general. 1hile many characters in Dubliners suddenly sto" "ursuing what they
desire without e6"lanation, this story offers more s"ecific articulation for =abriel!s actions. =abriel sees
himself as a shadow of a "erson, flic5ering in a world in which the li#ing and the dead meet. hough in
his s"eech at the dinner he insisted on the di#ision between the "ast of the dead and the "resent of the
li#ing, =abriel now recogni0es, after hearing that 4ichael Furey!s memory li#es on, that such di#ision is
false. 7s he loo5s out of his hotel window, he sees the falling snow, and he imagines it co#ering 4ichael
Furey!s gra#e Dust as it co#ers those "eo"le still li#ing, as well as the entire country of *reland. he story
lea#es o"en the "ossibility that =abriel might change his attitude and embrace life, e#en though his
somber dwelling on the dar5ness of *reland closes Dubliners with morose acce"tance. &e will e#entually
Doin the dead and will not be remembered.
he 4or5ans! "arty consists of the 5ind of deadening routines that ma5e e6istence so lifeless in
Dubliners. he e#ents of the "arty re"eat each yearF =abriel gi#es a s"eech, Freddy 4alins arri#es drun5,
e#eryone dances the same memori0ed ste"s, e#eryone eats. Ci5e the horse that circles around and around
the mill in =abriel!s anecdote, these Dubliners settle into an e6"ected routine at this "arty. /uch tedium
fi6es the characters in a state of "aralysis. hey are unable to brea5 from the acti#ities that they 5now, so
they li#e life without new e6"eriences, numb to the world. :#en the food on the table e#o5es death. he
life-gi#ing substance a""ears at >ri#al ends@ of the table that is lined with "arallel rows of #arious dishes,
di#ided in the middle by >sentries@ of fruit and watched from afar by >three sEuads of bottles.@ he
military language transforms a table set for a communal feast into a battlefield, ree5ing with danger and
>he Dead@ enca"sulates the themes de#elo"ed in the entire collection and ser#es as a balance to the first
story, >he /isters.@ ,oth stories "iercingly e6"lore the intersection of life and death and cast a shadow
o#er the other stories. 4ore than any other story, howe#er, >he Dead@ sEuarely addresses the state of
*reland in this res"ect. *n his s"eech, =abriel claims to lament the "resent age in which hos"itality li5e
that of the 4or5an family is under#alued, but at the same time he insists that "eo"le must not linger on
the "ast, but embrace the "resent. =abriel!s words betray him, and he ultimately encourages a tribute to
the "ast, the "ast of hos"itality, that li#es on in the "resent "arty. &is later thoughts re#eal this attachment
to the "ast when he en#isions snow as >general all o#er *reland.@ *n e#ery corner of the country, snow
touches both the dead and the li#ing, uniting them in fro0en "aralysis. &owe#er, =abriel!s thoughts in the
final lines of Dubliners suggest that the li#ing might in fact be able to free themsel#es and li#e unfettered
by deadening routines and the "ast. :#en in January, snow is unusual in *reland and cannot last fore#er.
Important Quotations Eplained
1. 8es, the news"a"ers were rightF snow was general all o#er *reland. *t was falling on e#ery "art of the
dar5 central "lain, on the treeless hills, falling softly u"on the ,og of 7llen and, farther westward, softly
falling into the dar5 mutinous /hannon wa#es. *t was falling, too, u"on e#ery "art of the lonely
churchyard on the hill where 4ichael Furey lay buried.
B>he Dead@
*n the #ery last "aragra"h of >he Dead,@ and hence the last "aragra"h of Dubliners, =abriel ga0es out of
his hotel window, watching the falling snow and reflecting on his wife =retta!s recent confession about
her childhood lo#e, 4ichael Furey. 're#iously in the story, =abriel had been into6icated and energi0ed by
=retta!s "reoccu"ied mood, which reminded him of their courtshi", but her outburst of sobbing
undermines his self-assurance. his Euiet moment of contem"lation "ortrays =abriel!s muted, hushed
acce"tance that he was not =retta!s first lo#e, and that in fact he has ne#er felt lo#e at all. he blan5et of
snow suggests this sense of numbness in =abriel!s characterBhe is literally frigid to emotionBbut also
the commonality of this trait. he snow does not fall only outside of =abriel!s window, but, as he
en#isions it, across the country, from the &arbor of Dublin in the east, to the south in /hannon, and to the
west. *n other words, e#eryone, e#erywhere, is as numb as he is.
*n this image, =abriel also contem"lates his mortality, and how his li#ing e6"erience intersects with death
and the dead. /now falls e#erywhere in *reland, including on the gra#e of 4ichael Furey, who has so
recently entered his life. *n his s"eech at his aunts! "arty, =abriel had called for the need to li#e one!s life
without brooding o#er the memories of the dead, but here he reali0es the futility of such di#isions and the
lac5 of feeling they e6"ose in his character. =retta cannot forget the "ain of the dead in her life, and her
acute suffering illustrates for =abriel that the dead are #ery much a "art of the li#es around him, including
his own. hat =abriel!s reflections occur in the nighttime adds to the significance of this Euote. 7s he now
broods o#er the dead, he ho#ers in that flic5ering state that se"arates the #ibrancy of one daytime from the
ne6t. he dar5ness abo#e the ground mirrors the dar5ness beneath the ground, where coffins of the dead
2. &e loo5ed down the slo"e and, at the base, in the shadow of the wall of the 'ar5, he saw some human
figures lying. hose #enal and furti#e lo#es filled him with des"air. &e gnawed the rectitude of his lifeP he
felt that he had been outcast from life!s feast.
B>7 'ainful Case@
his Euote from >7 'ainful Case@ shows 4r. Duffy wal5ing "ast the "ar5 near his home after he has
learned of 4rs. /inico!s death. &e sees two lo#ers in the "ar5. hey are not s"ecific "eo"le, but rather
human figures that render the scene uni#ersal, and the sight reminds 4r. Duffy of his self-im"osed
e6clusion from com"anionshi". *n the story, 4r. Duffy rebu5es the intimate gestures of 4rs. /inico, only
to reali0e here, after her death, how "otentially life-changing they could ha#e been. 7t the same time, the
language of this Euote articulates 4r. Duffy!s relentless s"ite for such "hysical e6"ressionBit is fleshly
and secreti#e, something that ha""ens in the shadows. his moment enacts a cycle of life and death that
echoes throughout DublinersF seeing the li#ing, "hysical e#idence of lo#e in two "eo"le leads 4r. Duffy
to thin5 of the dead, of 4rs. /inico, and then to reflect on his own e6istence. 4r. Duffy!s circular
thoughts recall the obsessi#e routines and daily "rocedures that com"rise his life and that ma5e no s"ace
for the intimate sharing of lo#e.
he imagery of eating in this Euote suggests the im"ortance of reci"rocity and union that is so absent in
this story. he "hysical act of eating is an acti#ity that 4r. Duffy attem"ts to e6ternali0e and control. 8et
4r. Duffy must gnaw on his rectitude because he has nothing else and because his rectitude is the root of
his e6clusion. *n li#ing in such a restrained way, including his cloc5wor5, solitary meals at the same
establishments, he cannot tolerate the change that lo#e harbors or the emotional out"ut, often so
uncontrollable, that it demands. 7s a result, 4r. Duffy must watch others feast and share in the
consum"tion of the many things the world has to offer, while he remains alone.
+. * watched my master!s face "ass from amiability to sternnessP he ho"ed * was not beginning to idle. *
could not call my wandering thoughts together. * had hardly any "atience with the serious wor5 of life
which, now that it stood between me and my desire, seemed to me child!s "lay, ugly monotonous child!s
*n this Euote, the young boy of >7raby@ has Dust s"o5en with 4angan!s sister, and now finds himself
entirely uninterested and bored by the demands of the classroom. *nstead, he thin5s of 4angan!s sister, of
the u"coming ba0aar, and of anything but what rests before him. his scene forecasts the boy!s future
frustration with the tedious details that foil his desires, and it also illustrates the boy!s struggle to define
himself as an adult, e#en in the s"ace of the classroom structured as a hierarchy between master and
student. Just as mundane lessons obstruct the boy!s thoughts, by the end of the story e#eryday delays
undermine his ho"es to "urchase something for 4angan!s sister at the ba0aar. *n both cases, monotony
"re#ents the boy from fulfilling his desires.
his scene articulates the boy!s na#igation between childhood and adulthood. &e sees the routine
boredom of school as child!s "layBit is easy, unengaging, and re"etiti#e. Desire, on the other hand, is
ins"irational and liberating. &is thoughts, after all, wander e#erywhere, rather than remain fi6ed to the
"lace they should be. 8earning for the freedom of adulthood, the boy remains chained to the "redictability
of childhood. he irony under"inning the word idle reflects the hy"ocrisy of this situation, and as such
forms one of the moments in the narrati#e when the subDect!s #oice s"ea5s through the detached third
"erson. 1hat e6actly, the "assage as5s, is idle about e6cited desireL *dle acti#ity, rather, defines the
acti#ity in school, and thus childhood.
2. &e remembered the boo5s of "oetry u"on his shel#es at home. &e had bought them in his bachelor
days and many an e#ening, as he sat in the little room of the hall, he had been tem"ted to ta5e one down
from the boo5shelf and read out something to his wife. ,ut shyness always held him bac5P and so the
boo5s had remained on their shel#es.
B>7 Cittle Cloud@
*n this Euote from the beginning of >7 Cittle Cloud,@ Cittle Chandler sits in his office, waiting for the
wor5day to conclude so he can meet with =allaher, his old friend. 7s he thin5s about =allaher!s successes
as a Condon news"a"er writer, Cittle Chandler begins to reflect on his own career as a writer. hough he
wor5s as a cler5, a Dob in which writing "lays a large "art, Cittle Chandler as"ires to be a "oetBa writer
whose material is human emotion, not drudgery. *n this "assage, howe#er, Cittle Chandler deDectedly
acce"ts that such as"irations will ne#er materiali0e. &e has the boo5s, but none of the "assionate dri#e to
"roduce one of his own. he boo5s in the Euote, in turn, ser#e as emblems of Cittle Chandler!s "oetic
desires. hey are "resent and within reach, but his temerity and hesitation "re#ent him from "ulling them
from the shelf. &is inability to read to his wife also hints at the contradictory role of marriage in his lifeF it
acts as an inhibitor rather than an encouragement to fulfilling his desires. he final moments of the story
confirm this antagonism. Cittle Chandler musters the courage to read some "oetry to himself, but his
wife!s entry crushes his re#erie and ma5es him feel remorseful for his actions.
he symbolic setting of this "assage underscores the com"eting forces in Cittle Chandler!s life. &e
wishes to li#e and write "oetically, but does so in the confines of an office s"ace. he imagined "resence
of the boo5s, Du6ta"osed with Cittle Chandler!s surroundings, highlights the contrast between his
grandiose dreams and the mundane reality that en#elo"s him. Cittle Chandler!s wandering mind e#o5es
the esca"ist leanings of so many of the characters in Dubliners, though his reality at least mimics his
dreams. hat is, Cittle Chandler earns his li#ing in a "allid #ersion of the same career about which he
-. hey thought they had only a girl to deal with and that, therefore, they could ride roughshod o#er her.
,ut she would show them their mista5e. hey wouldn!t ha#e dared to ha#e treated her li5e that if she had
been a man. ,ut she would see that her daughter got her rightsF she wouldn!t be fooled.
B>7 4other@
From >7 4other,@ this Euote re#eals the thoughts of 4rs. ?earney toward the end of the final concert in
which her daughter, ?athleen, is scheduled to "erform. 1hen she agreed to let her daughter "artici"ate,
4rs. ?earney arranged a contract in which the organi0ers agreed to "ay ?athleen for three "erformances.
1ith the second "erformance cancelled and the third nearly finished, 4rs. ?earney, in the "assages
before this one, has "ursued the organi0ers of the concert, reminding them that ?athleen must be "aid in
full des"ite the changes. &ere she e6"resses her determination in seeing the contract fulfilledBa
determination that fi6ates on the gendered conte6t of the situation. 7ll of the organi0ers, who ha#e been
dodging 4rs. ?earney!s inEuires, are men. 7s such, 4rs. ?earney sees her treatment as biased and
mani"ulati#e. hat 4rs. ?earney wants to >show@ the men their erred Dudgment of her fits with 4rs.
?earney!s concerns with a""earance and "erformance in the story. Following u" with the agreement of
the contract isn!t enoughBshe must "ublicly "oint out their mista5e.
he "arallel construction of this Euote illustrates on a formal le#el a confrontational, com"etiti#e
a""roach that both bolsters and wea5ens 4rs. ?earney!s Euest. he first sentence begins with >they,@
followed by a sentence that begins with >but she.@ his mo#e from the critiEued "arty of men to 4rs.
?earney, a mo#e re"eated in the third and fourth sentences, e#o5es 4rs. ?earney!s defensi#e mindset.
>hey@ may do this, >but she@ will counter. /uch antagonism acts as a rallying cry for 4rs. ?earney, yet
it also ser#es to undercut sym"athy for her character. he re"eated call for re#enge highlights 4rs.
?earney!s self-concern that o#errides concern for ?athleen. 7s the "rogression of the Euote indicates,
first 4rs. ?earney will #alori0e herself, and then she will be sure that ?athleen gets "aid. $owhere,
howe#er, does the reader hear ?athleen!s #oice.
full title Q Dubliners
author Q James Joyce
ty"e of wor5 Q Collection of short stories
genre Q Realist fictionP urban literature
language Q :nglish ;with some *rish and &iberno-:nglish sayings<
time and "lace written Q :arly 1())s, *reland and *taly
date of first "ublication Q 1(12
"ublisher Q =rant Richards
narrator Q he first three stories are narrated by the main character of each story, which in all three cases is
a young, unnamed boy. he rest of the stories are narrated by an anonymous third "erson who "ays close
attention to circumstantial detail though in a detached manner.
"oint of #iew Q he first three stories, told from the first "erson, focus on the thoughts and obser#ations of
the narrators. *n the stories told from the third "erson, the narrators detail obDecti#e information and
"resent characters as they would a""ear to an outsider, but also "resent thoughts and actions from the
"rotagonists! "oints of #iew, gi#ing the reader a sense of what the characters are feeling.
tone Q hough told mainly by an anonymous narrator, the stories of Dubliners form a self-conscious
e6amination of Joyce!s nati#e city in *reland. ,ecause the narrator maintains a neutral and distant
"resence, detecting Joyce!s attitude toward his characters is not always easy. he abundance of details
about the grim realities of the city and the focus on hardshi"s, howe#er, create a tragic tone and offer a
subtle critiEue.
tense Q 'ast tense
setting ;time< Q :arly 1())s
setting ;"lace< Q Dublin
maDor conflict Q Karious figures struggle with the challenges of com"licated relationshi"s and life in
themes Q he "rison of routineP the desire for esca"eP the intersection of life and death
motifs Q 'aralysisP e"i"hanyP betrayalP religion
symbols Q 1indowsP dus5 and nighttimeP food
foreshadowing Q he death of Father Flynn in >he /isters@ announces the focus on death in later stories
li5e >he Dead@P story titles hint at e#ents in the stories