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In the short story Counterparts from Dubliners by James Joyce, how does Farrington get...

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junjlo | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted July 27, 2013 at 2:57 AM via iOS

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In the short story Counterparts from Dubliners by James Joyce, how does Farrington get enough money to go drinking and what does this say about him?

What is his reaction to getting money in this way?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 27, 2013 at 6:14 AM (Answer #1)

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Counterparts is one of the short stories from James Joyce's Dubliners. Fairly typical of the stereotypical Irishman of the time, Farrington is obviously a drinking man, having gone down out for a drink earlier in the day, despite having deadlines to meet.

After being humiliated in front of all the staff, accused of being nothing more than an "impertinent ruffian" by his complaining manager, Mr Alleyne, Farrington is desperate to get enough money together to go out drinking with his friends that evening. He is not paying attention to Mr Alleyne's comments nor is he concerned about the missing document pages.

Farrington considers his options in trying to raise the money. There's the cashier who can maybe give him an advance, but that's no use because he can't get him alone and he probably ewouldn't have done so anyway. There's Higgins but he has enough of his own issues. Farrington is so "aching for the comfort of the public-house" that he is distracted and has not been listening to anything really. Whilst fingering his pocket-watch he realizes that he can pawn it at "Terry Kelly's pawn-office."

Upon holding out for six shillings in the pawn office, Farrington is very pleased with himself and, excited to meet his friends in the bar, he is already thinking how he will tell his version of the humiliation he suffered in the office to ensure he looks good. He can already smell the "curling fumes of punch."

Pawning his pocket-watch reveals his attitude. He has no dedication to his work. He has never considered that Mr Alleyne may complain less if he actually did his work. " All the indignities of his life enraged him" and the fact that all that he can think about is drinking shows that he would rather just forget his mundane life with no career prospects as he is powerless to change it. He has no opportunities due to his lower social class and is frowned upon by Mr Alleyne who thinks he is better than him. The answer then is drink and violence.

The irony of Farrington's situation is that, when he gets home, he will exert his power over his son and beat him which reveals the similarity between Farrington and Alleyne. Having been completely dis-empowered by Alleyne, Farrington repeats and so perpetuates the cycle of control and humiliation over others which, for him, ultimately, results in violence.  

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