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What is distinctive about Joyce's work is his use of epiphanies, or moments of sudden realisation, when characters realise essential facts about themselves or their context. "Araby" is of course one of the best examples of this in my opinion, as the teenage Romantic narrator, consumed by his quest to buy something from the bazaar for Mangan's sister, comes to the sudden realisation that what he is engaged in is not a quest for the honour of some fair maiden's hand, but vanity. You might find it interesting to identify and compare and contrast the epiphanies in this story to extend your analysis further.
"A Painful Case" is a story in Dubliners that certainly illustrates what Joyce perceived as the emotional and moral paralysis of the Irish. James Duffy, a practical and emotionless man, who is unable to allow change and emotion into his life is the "centerpiece of the story," which describes two "painful cases": a man who would deny love, and a woman who seeks it.
Duffy meets Mrs. Sinico at a musical concerts; they begin walking together in the evenings. Their meetings eventually bring them closer together and they develop a comaraderie that "emotionalize[s] his mental life." However, he has idealized his relationship with Mrs. Sinico and when she catches his hand passionately and presses it to her cheek, Mr. Duffy is greatly disillusioned with her. Fearful of the bonds that bring sorrow and disorder, he breaks off his relationship with Mrs. Sinico.
After fours years, Mr. Duffy reads of "a painful case": Mrs. Emily Sinico...was killed at Sydney Parade Station while attempting to cross the line...sustaining injuries of the head and right side which led to her death. Mr. Duffy discerns from what he has read that Mrs. Sinico had been drunk when she was struck; he feels that she has degraded herself and him as well. He thinks of her as
unfit to live, wihout any strength of pupose, an easy prey to habits, one of the wreck on which civilisation has been reared....He had no difficulty now in approving of the course he had taken.
However, after a while, Duffy begins to realize that he could have done something for Mrs. Sinico. Now that she is gone, he realizes how lonely her life must have been:
His life would be lonely too until he, too, died cease to exist, became a memory--if anyone remembered him.
Mr.Duffy apprehends that a human being had loved him and he sentenced her "to ignominy, a death of shame." As he turns back the way he has come, Duffy begins to doubt "the reality of what memory had told him." He listens for her voice, but realizes there is nothing: He felt that he was alone." These lines of literal situation expand into the symbolic situation in the story. In his epiphany, Duffy becomes enlightened about himself, but it is too late for him to do anything; he has been caught too long in emotional paralysis alone.
The epiphany in "Araby" is that the bazaar that the young man has so longed to go to is not what he imagined, but a dirty and disappointing place that is nothing special at all. The young man has his hopes pinned on going to the bazaar and finding something special to impress the object of his crush, Magnan's sister, but he arrives late, can't find the cheap entrance, is treated with disdain by the venders who are looking to be done for the day, and comes home empty handed. The story is a classic loss of innocence story. The imagery of the light and dark imagery throughout the story reinforce this feeling of the experience of the young man. His moment of epiphany that expectations can't ever match the reality comes in a dark and dreary place where he seems to lose hope in more than just finding the right trinket for the young lady.
Many of the short stories in Joyce's "Dubliners," fifteen in total contain epiphanies at the end of them. A few that are quite interesting are "An Encounter" where two boys meet an old man, and "After the Race" which is about a young man trying to be like his wealthy friends.
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