Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Mrs. Mooney, a coarse, shrewd, and determined woman, connives to marry off her daughter to one of the more responsible lodgers in her shabby, questionably respectable boardinghouse. Having given her daughter the run of the young men, Mrs. Mooney watches in silent approval as Polly seduces a meek, middle-aged clerk. As the story opens, Mrs. Mooney, having ascertained the facts of the situation from her daughter, prepares to confront the lover, Bob Doran. She is determined to make him marry the girl, under the weight of social, religious, and economic pressure. The story, told almost entirely through narrative flashbacks, recounts the collusion between mother and daughter in the entrapment of Doran. Although Doran balks inwardly against this coercion, he finds himself surrendering to the admonitions of his priest, to the middle-class conventions of Dublin life, and to his fears of scandal, of losing his job, and of reprisals by Polly’s rowdy and violent brother. Despite his affection for Polly, he is repelled by her vulgarity and fears that he will be lowering himself socially by marrying her. Indeed, the narrative substantiates Doran’s “notion that he was being had,” while it makes clear that his capitulation is a foregone conclusion.
Because most of the story is told through exposition and flashback, very little happens in the course of the narrative, which spans only about an hour on a Sunday morning. Doran, the reluctant lover and the even more...
(The entire section is 372 words.)
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