Dubliners Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Dubliners

Dubliners is not a collection of short stories that were written at various periods and with various themes. It is clearly meant to be a unified work of art. Joyce said that he chose Dublin as the setting because it was “the center of paralysis.” Yet he also stated that his purpose was to depict “the eventual spiritual liberation of my country.” Such a “liberation” could occur only if the Dubliners were to shed the myths about Ireland and face their true situation.

The stories of Dubliners are cunningly arranged. The first three stories clearly constitute a unit; they portray the life of a child in Dublin and are filled with disillusionment and a recognition of failure. “Araby” describes a failed quest as a nameless boy promises to go to a bazaar called Araby to buy a gift for a young girl. The boy is a dreamer who ignores daily life to dwell upon his beloved. It is significant that he invests her with religious imagery when he speaks of a “chalice” he is protecting. He also does not see her clearly; she is always a brown shape to him, and he worships his idea of her rather than her true self.

On the day of his planned visit to Araby, his uncle is late, and it seems that the boy will not be able to go. Finally, the uncle enters, drunk, and gives him money. It is late when the boy arrives at the bazaar, and he finds not the magic and mystery of his dreams but a woman flirting with two men at a counter. He hears a voice announce that the light is out—a metaphor for the extinguishing of his quest. The epiphany is very harsh: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” The boy feels ashamed of his earlier dreams; he, like the other Dubliners, is incomplete. His dreams have been smashed and he is filled with self-loathing.

The next stories deal with young and mature people in Dublin. They suffer from a paralysis of the will as well as a failure to fulfill plans or complete escapes or projects. In “Eveline” the main character has found a beau, Frank, who wishes to take her to Buenos Aires against the opposition of her father. She sits in a dusty room and weighs the claims of both sides. Most of her meditation deals with her father and her home. It is a familiar if grim place; the father is a drunk who makes Eveline give him all the money she earns at her job. She can recall only a few positive images of her father. In contrast, Frank is “very kind, manly, open-hearted.” He loves music and will give Eveline an honorable place as his wife. Eveline seems to decide between the two when she thinks of the fate of her mother: “that life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness.” In panic, she chooses Frank; he will save her. At the end of the story, however, she cannot answer the call of Frank to join him on the ship. She remains in a state of paralysis between Frank and her home. Her fears of being drowned and her obligations to her family overcome the freedom promised by Frank. She cannot escape Dublin and is described as being “passive, like a helpless animal.” “Eveline” is a quintessential Dubliners story. The dream of a fuller life is betrayed by fear and paralysis of the will.

The last group of stories deals with institutions: “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” with politics, “A Mother” with the musical world of Dublin, and “Grace” with religion.

The last story in the collection, “The Dead,” seems to stand alone as a kind of coda. The story itself is very detailed in its presentation of a middle-class and educated world. The protagonist, Gabriel, is Gabriel Conroy. The reader hears Gabriel’s inner thoughts as he meditates on Ireland and his place in it. He is an inner exile in Dublin who takes his vacations on the Continent, writes a review of a British poet, Browning, and has little use for the Irish Literary Revival of language and culture. The structure of the story is the destruction of his aloofness and egotism.

The first of the assaults on Gabriel’s egotism is with the servant Lily. Gabriel makes social conversation with Lily primarily, it seems, to enhance his own image. He pretends to be genuinely interested in Lily and manages to offend her. “’O, then,’ said Gabriel gaily, ’I suppose we’ll be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man, eh?’ ” Lily is angered and complains of men who fail to meet their commitments. Gabriel is embarrassed at this outburst and later feels that he has used the wrong tone with her.

The next assault on Gabriel is made by Miss Ivors. Miss Ivors is a nationalist and criticizes Gabriel for writing his review in a pro-British journal. She also criticizes him for going to the Continent to learn foreign languages when he has his own language to learn. “O, to tell you the truth,” Gabriel suddenly responds, “I’m sick of my own country, sick of it!” Gabriel is especially upset because Miss Ivors has criticized him in front of other people.

The last confrontation is the most important and is with his wife, Gretta. After the party is over, Gabriel has romantic feelings about his wife. She, however, seems to be distant and tired. He draws her to him, but she resists his advances. Finally, she reveals that she was thinking not of Gabriel but of a young man she knew in Galway. Gabriel tries to belittle this relationship but does not succeed. Instead, he suddenly begins to realize who he is and what his relationship with his wife has been. He now sees himself as a “ludicrous figure” who has idealized his “clownish lusts.” When Gretta reveals that the young man, Michael Furey, died for her, Gabriel’s egotism and his world are destroyed. He feels that some “impalpable and vindictive being was coming against him.” Gabriel then passes through stages to reach his final state. He becomes a prophet who announces the death of his aunt, Julia Morkan. He begins to shed “generous tears” as he thinks of the death of Michael Furey. Furey had died for love, and although Gabriel has never felt love before, “he knew that such a feeling must be love.”

The last movement of the story is very difficult to interpret. Gabriel recognizes that it is time “to set out on his journey westward.” That journey can be interpreted as either toward life or toward death. A journey to the west is traditionally associated with death, but all of the positive characters—Gretta, Furey—come from the west. In addition, Gabriel feels his own identity and all of Ireland “fading out into a grey impalpable world.” The last sentence speaks of the snow falling “like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” The ending of the story is seen in positive terms by some critics as a figurative rebirth for Gabriel. Others see it as the destruction of Gabriel and the world of Dublin, literally a last judgment. Still others see it as ambiguous, making it impossible for the reader to decide whether the ending is positive or negative. Yet another interpretation is that Gabriel is a prophet who points the way to the eventual “spiritual liberation” of Dublin through the love that he, Gabriel, recognizes but cannot feel. Thus, the ending signifies a cleansing of society in order to rebuild it on new principles.

Dubliners Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

James Joyce, the preeminent experimental modernist, began Dubliners with a version of “The Sisters.” A first-person narrative, it appeared in a 1904 issue of Irish Homestead under the pseudonym Stephen Daedalus. Thus the narrator was part of the story, its now mature protagonist. A character of the same name was already the protagonist of an autobiographical novel-in-progress, Stephen Hero, that ultimately became A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1914-1915). Stephen Dedalus (why Joyce changed the spelling of the last name is uncertain) would also be a major character in Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses (1922).

Stephen’s namesake, Daedalus, the first artist of Greek mythology, is most famous for inventing human flight by combining mundane things—feathers, frames, wax, and knowledge about birds. Like the father of flight, “Stephen Daedalus” uses everyday life in his art, creating soaring insights. Joyce called such insights epiphanies, analogs of the epiphanic belief of New Testament Magi that the manger-housed infant of a Jewish newlywed was their God. Joyce no longer believed in the religious Epiphany but thought art should yield epiphanic insights using mundane facts and events.

Initially, he planned a dozen stories, arranged into four categories. Including a revision of “The Sisters,” there would be three stories each, devoted to childhood, adolescence, mature life, and public life. By 1907, he had created a fifth category, married life. Stories on married life were inserted between the stories of adolescence and mature life. “The Sisters,” first of the childhood stories, is about a boy’s relationship with his teacher, Father Flynn, who just died. The boy’s uncle and aunt, who are raising him, and their friend Cotter wonder what happened between the two. The uncle defends Flynn, suggesting that he had a “great wish” for the boy—presumably the priesthood—and the speculation seems to be corroborated by what the boy studied: Latin and priestly duties to the Eucharist and the confessional, in which sinners are absolved in absolute confidentiality. The boy is awed by those duties and, it is suggested, thinks Father Flynn wanted him in the order until he learns through the denials of Flynn’s sisters that Flynn spilled sanctified wine, failing in his duty to the Eucharist, and was found paralyzed, helplessly laughing to himself in the confessional. These facts, which Flynn could not share because of a “too scrupulous” duty to the confessional, enable the boy to realize epiphanically that Father Flynn did not intend to awe and to attract but rather to awe and to dissuade him from becoming a priest.

“An Encounter” leads to its protagonist’s realization that his attitude toward his fellows has been wanting. Searching for adventure, he and his classmate Mahoney ditch school. The Dillon boys do not join them, and the protagonist takes pleasure in imagining a disciplinarian caning one of them. When a perverse, scholarly old man who disdains common children confesses to the protagonist a delight in administering whippings, the protagonist recognizes a destructive parallel in himself. In “Penitent,” he acknowledges the loyal Mahoney as a friend who does not deserve the disdain he felt for him.

“Araby” concludes the childhood group with an epiphanic story about love. The shy protagonist, infatuated with “Mangan’s sister,” is approached by her one day. She wonders whether he will be going to Araby, a bazaar. She would love to go, she says. When he asks why she cannot, she blames a retreat at her convent. Determined to buy her something, the protagonist goes to the bazaar alone and finds a saleswoman flirting with two men: She claims that she did not say something; they claim that she did. In that context, the love-smitten boy realizes that Mangan’s sister had discretely offered to accompany him to the bazaar. Her covert offer would have allowed her to deny doing so if he had teased her about it; too naïve to realize what she was doing, and too shy to say, “Let’s go together,” he loses the opportunity by assuming she could not go. Crushed, the boy leaves without buying anything.

For the boy, experience yields insight. Protagonists of the remaining narratives, with the possible exception of “The Dead,” end benighted. In the subsequent stories of Dubliners, epiphanies are reserved for readers.

The adolescents are all failures. Eveline, in the story that bears her name, wants her beau Frank to resemble her dead brother Ernest, who protected her from their violent father. However, doubting Frank’s intentions, she fails to determine whether Frank’s offer to spirit her to Buenos Aires is earnest or useful. Instead, a frightened animal, she freezes at the boarding ramp of the boat on which Frank leaves.

Jimmy Doyle of “After the Race” thinks he is a companion to the automobile racers he follows. Instead, they bilk the do-nothing butcher’s son of his cash. They get him drunk, fleece him at cards, and leave him in a stupor to await “daybreak.”

Lenehan and Corley, aging protagonists of “Two Gallants,” the final story of adolescence, are even worse off. Lenehan, a leech in a yachting cap, follows in John Corley’s wake. Both perpetually need cash, and Corley uses a stratagem to obtain some. While Lenehan eats peas, contemplates marriage to a rich woman, and worries, Corley persuades the homely servant he is servicing to steal from her employer. Thus J. C. (who aspirates the first letter of his name, rendering it Whorely) sells love, and Lenehan is his disciple.

The stories of marriage are no more idyllic. In “The Boarding House,” Bob Doran only thinks he sowed wild oats. Meek, he is coerced into marrying Polly Mooney, daughter of “the Madam” who runs the house. Polly, under her mother’s eye, allures him, and at the proper moment the Madam demands that Doran save her daughter’s honor or face exposure. Fearful, he acquiesces in a marriage that bodes ill from before the start.

Timid Little Chandler of “A Little Cloud” is already married. Father of an infant whom his wife prefers to him, he dreams of becoming a poet. He imagines reviews of his Celtic poems, but no verse issues from him. He would like to emulate his friend Gallaher, who escapes provincial life by becoming a reporter, and when Gallaher visits, Chandler meets him at Corless’s, a risqué nightclub that Chandler used to hurry past in trembling excitement. Alas, Gallaher now disdains Ireland. He affects an English accent, dresses like an Englishman, and is touchy about his failure to marry. Chandler sees through Gallaher’s bravado briefly but on returning home falls back into blind admiration. His wife upbraids Gallaher for upsetting her “little mannie,” and Chandler weeps.

Bulky Farrington of “Counterparts” lashes out instead. A cog in the machine of modern commerce, his physical strength is useless in his job as scrivener. At work, pink, hairless Mr. Alleyne dominates him. Farrington’s small wage keeps him subject, and when he wastes the six shillings he gets pawning his watch by standing a round of drinks, an aggravated awareness of his constraints grips him. His attempt to arm-wrestle a circus performer compromises his physical power, and, utterly defeated, he asserts dominance at home by beating his son, blindly striking a blow at himself through his one hope for the future.

The stories of mature life concern people with dismal pasts and no future. Maria of “Clay,” a nanny once, reared children who were not hers. A woman who offered motherly attention without the office of mother, she lives now at the Dublin by Lamplight laundry, where women who once sold sex without the office of wife seek shelter. On her way to a visit with her former charge Joe, she is confused by kind words from a tipsy gentleman and disembarks without the plumcake she is bringing. Joe is gracious about it, but his children resent her suggestion that they took the cake. In a game designed to predict the future, they and the girls next door trick Maria into choosing a saucer of clay, suggesting the grave. Joe’s wife substitutes a prayer-book, anticipating life in a convent, but the first choice stands. When Maria sings “I Dreamt That I Dwelt,” she repeats the nostalgic first verse, leaving out the verse that refers to future love.

James Duffy of “A Painful Case” likewise lacks prospects, but he embraces bleakness. He lives at a distance even from himself, writes about himself in the third person, and, when an opportunity arises to strike up friendships with Mrs. Sinico and her daughter, becomes friendly only with the mother, possibly thinking married women physically unavailable. When she seeks intimate relations, he breaks off the friendship, noting that love between men is impossible because sex must be avoided and friendship with women is impossible because sex cannot be avoided. Disapproving his own impulses, Duffy condemns himself to an isolation that is finalized four years later by Mrs. Sinico’s perhaps accidental death.

Not only isolation but absence is the highest presence in “Ivy Day in the Committee Room.” At a gathering of political canvassers on the anniversary of Charles Stewart Parnell’s death, when all who honor him wear sprigs of ivy, drinking outweighs politics. When Parnell’s loyal follower, Joe Hynes, reads his poorly crafted but heartfelt tribute to “Ireland’s uncrowned king” (Parnell), the unsympathetic Mr. Croften robs it of value by praising the writing.

Public life, whether artistic, religious, or celebratory, is equally frustrating. Mrs. Kearney of “A Mother” wants to manage her pianist daughter’s career but loses sight of her goal. Her dispute with Mr. Holohan over remuneration leads him to deny future employment to the girl.

Father Purdon of “Grace” offers businessmen salvation at a price. Tom Kernan, a drunken salesman, needs to reform, and his friends, led by Mssrs. Power and Cunningham, take him to church, where Purdon’s sermon twists the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16: 8-9) into a “spiritual accountant[’s]” call for compromise.

“The Dead,” last in the series, combines all categories. Gabriel Conroy, attending a Feast of Epiphany party at the home of his aunts one snowy evening, likes to think of himself as liberated, but he is trapped on many fronts. He imagines that he is genteel, but, when he finds himself alone with Lily, the maid, he is attracted. A college teacher, he married Gretta, a Connacht girl disdained by his now dead mother as “country cute”; he still smarts at the characterization. Imagining himself above politics, he is wounded when his colleague, the political activist Molly Ivors, playfully accuses him of abandoning Ireland. He thinks he disdains his aunts and cousin, but he delivers a speech at the party and carves the goose. He creates a life for Gretta, but she does not play the roles he assigns; when they rent a hotel room her thoughts never approach his erotic imaginings. Gretta is thinking of sickly Michael Furey, who in her teen years exposed himself to the cold for her, worsened, and died. Gabriel, preoccupied with thoughts of being alone with his wife at evening’s end, fails to see that for her the evening has been a pining regret over lost youthful love and guilt over Michael’s death. Forced to confront his failures, Gabriel, in his own epiphany, sees his living relationship with his wife as less significant than the love of the long-dead Michael, and, in a snowy vision of the living and dead united, resolves to travel westward into Ireland, where he can meet his demise. His understanding, however, is still partial; incomplete recognition can lead to a paralysis as damaging as ignorance.

Joyce was anticipated by the late nineteenth century Russian Anton Chekhov in the writing of apparently plotless stories of everyday life that nevertheless yielded insights into entrapment, frustration, and psychological paralysis. Joyce was first to see such stories as epiphanic and in Dubliners produced one of the first collections of stories geographically and thematically linked into a single work of transcendent art.

Dubliners Overview

Dubliners is a short-story cycle, but unlike other such cycles, Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (1919), for instance, or...

(The entire section is 156 words.)

Dubliners Summary

Summary of the Short Stories
In turn-of-the-century Dublin, the lives of several lower and middle-class Irishmen are described...

(The entire section is 1081 words.)

Dubliners Summary and Analysis

The Sisters: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Narrator: boy, 8–9 years old

Father Flynn (dead): boy’s mentor

Narrator’s Aunt and Uncle

Nannie and Eliza: priest’s elderly sisters

Old Cotter: family friend

Summary
This story is narrated by a young boy, probably about eight or nine, discussing the imminent death of Father Flynn, an older priest whom he has befriended. After three strokes, the priest is paralyzed, but the boy hesitates to ask for certain if he has died. His aunt, uncle, and a family friend discuss the priest’s odd habits, the friend adding that the priest might not be a good influence on a younger person. The boy takes offense at what he believes is a...

(The entire section is 1166 words.)

An Encounter: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Narrator: boy, 8–9 years old

Mahoney: school friend of the narrator

Leo Dillon: school friend of the narrator

Joe Dillon: Leo’s brother

Older Man in Field: quite likely a sexual pervert

Summary
The narrator of this story is once again a boy around eight or nine years old (possibly the same boy as in the previous story, but not specified), who loves reading stories of the Wild West and American detective tales. Although he acts out some of these western adventures with his friends, he feels stifled by both these childish games and school. With his two friends, Leo Dillon and Mahoney, the narrator plans to skip school for one day...

(The entire section is 1274 words.)

Araby: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Narrator: boy, 9–12 years old

Mangan’s sister: sister of narrator’s friend with whom the boy is in love

Narrator’s Aunt and Uncle

Summary
“Araby” is a puzzling story upon first reading because very little happens in terms of plot. The narrator, looking back upon his youth (he is approximately 12 years old), recalls a time when he was deeply in love with his neighbor, Mangan’s sister. Although we never learn the narrator’s or the sister’s name, we understand that the boy has a vivid imagination and is desperate to prove his devotion to the object of his affection.

When he hears of an exotic neighborhood fair called Araby, the...

(The entire section is 1553 words.)

Eveline: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Eveline Hill: young woman, 18–20 years old

Eveline’s Father: an alcoholic

Eveline’s Mother: who died and Eveline loved

Frank: Eveline’s betrothed

Summary
Nearly all the events in this story take place in Eveline Hill’s mind as she prepares to run away from her father’s home and elope with a sailor. About 18–20 years old, Eveline has supported and cared for her alcoholic father for an unspecified number of years after her mother’s death. Although her existence is described in her thoughts as extremely empty, she has profound misgivings about leaving: her duty to her father, her promise to her dying mother that she would look...

(The entire section is 959 words.)

After the Race: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Jimmy Doyle: wealthy 20–21 year-old Irishman

Charles Segouin: owner of a French race car, his friend

Andre Riviere: friend of Segouin

Villona: Hungarian friend of Segouin

Routh: English friend of Segouin

Farley: American friend of Riviere

Summary
The story begins with a young, wealthy Dublin college graduate, Jimmy Doyle, engaging in a motor car race through Dublin with three Europeans from the continent: two Frenchmen and a Hungarian. Although Jimmy’s family is known in Dublin for its wealth, among the sophisticated Europeans, he is more in awe of them than their equal, and he is thrilled at being seen in their...

(The entire section is 900 words.)

Two Gallants: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Corley: a womanizer about 25 years old

Lenehan: his buddy, approximately the same age

Servant Girl (“Slavey”): whom Corley is dating

Summary
The story commences as Corley and Lenehan are walking through Dublin at the end of the workday, discussing Corley’s exploits with women and passing time before Corley’s date. Currently, he is involved with a servant girl (a “slavey”) whom he uses and has sex with but has no intention of marrying. Lenehan enjoys listening but offers little judgment and no stories of his own.

As they pass a club, they hear a harpist on the street playing an Irish folksong to a crowd. Soon thereafter, Corley...

(The entire section is 1120 words.)

The Boarding House: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Mrs. Mooney: owner of the boarding house

Polly Mooney: her 19-year-old daughter

Bob Doran: boarder with whom Polly has become romantically involved

Summary
Polly Mooney, 19, lives in her mother’s boarding house with her brother and the young male boarders and tourists who make up its inhabitants. Polly is pretty, and she receives flirtatious advances from many of the boarders and reciprocates, but Mrs. Mooney is frustrated by her daughter’s lack of progress in finding a husband. When Polly begins to have a not-too-subtle affair with one of the boarders, Bob Doran, Mrs. Mooney stays surprisingly quiet and her daughter wonders if she’s acquiescent. In...

(The entire section is 948 words.)

A Little Cloud: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Little Chandler: Thirty-ish clerk and amateur poet

Ignatius Gallaher: Little Chandler’s school friend, now a journalist living in London

Little’s Wife (Annie) and Baby Son

Summary
Little Chandler, a 30-year-old legal clerk, is anticipating his evening meeting with Ignatius Gallaher, a friend from his youth. In the eight years since they’ve seen each other, Gallaher has moved to London to become a journalist, a situation which both impresses Little and makes him envious. He covets Gallaher’s freedom to travel as well as his career as a writer. As he prepares for their meeting, Little allows himself to hope that Gallaher might be able to help him...

(The entire section is 1250 words.)

Counterparts: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Farrington: Forty-ish clerk and alcoholic

Mr. Alleyne: Farrington’s boss

Weathers: an English entertainer whom Farrington meets in a pub

Several of Farrington’s Drinking Companions

Summary
When the story begins, Farrington, an alcoholic administrator in a law office, is enduring the chastisement of his boss, Mr. Alleyne, for his shabby work. Diving into a pub for a drink to calm his anger, Farrington returns to the office even more muddled than before and makes several more errors in his work. When Alleyne rebukes him, this time in front of a client, Farrington responds insultingly, and the boss nearly goes wild with anger.

...

(The entire section is 1048 words.)

Clay: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Maria: middle-aged worker in an Irish charitable laundry

Joe Donnelly: her nephew

Joe’s Family

Summary
Maria, the protagonist in this story, works in a charitable laundry service in Dublin. This evening, Halloween, she has the night off after serving the laundresses their holiday cakes. On her way to visit her nephew Joe and his family, Maria carefully calculates how much she can spend on treats and picks up special desserts for Joe’s family.

Once she arrives at their home, Maria discovers that she’s left one of the costly treats in the tram and becomes upset at her absent-mindedness, but the family comforts her. Thereafter, the children...

(The entire section is 898 words.)

A Painful Case: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
James Duffy: middle-aged ascetic and scholar

Emily Sinico: middle-aged married woman who becomes attached to Duffy intellectually and personally

Summary
James Duffy is a middle-aged ascetic who lives an isolated and intellectual life. He writes and reads philosophy, attends concerts, but lives far removed from human companionship.

At a concert, he meets Mrs. Emily Sinico, who attends the concert with her daughter. After she makes a comment, Duffy speaks to her. At their next chance meeting at another concert, he speaks more personally, finding out that her husband, a sea captain, often travels for long periods.

After their third accidental...

(The entire section is 966 words.)

Ivy Day in the Committee Room: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Old Jack: caretaker of headquarters

O’Connor: young political canvasser

Hynes: canvasser whom others suspect of working for the rival side

Henchy: a canvasser

Crofton: a canvasser

Lyons: a canvasser

Richard Tierney: politician running for office in the Royal Exchange Ward and for whom the canvassers are working

Father Keon: de-frocked priest and friend of Tierney

Charles Stewart Parnell: (dead) Irish Revolutionary in whose honor ivy is worn on the lapel to commemorate anniversary of his death

Summary
On the anniversary of the death of Irish political leader Charles Stewart Parnell,...

(The entire section is 1153 words.)

A Mother: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Mrs. Kearney: overbearing mother and socially ambitious member of Dublin middle class

Mr. Kearney: her quiet, ineffectual husband

Kathleen Kearney: her teenage daughter

Mr. Holohan: assistant secretary to the Eire Abu Society

Mr. Fitzpatrick: secretary to the Eire Abu Society

Summary
Mrs. Kearney, a socially ambitious middle-class mother, arranges for her daughter Kathleen to play the piano at a fairly prestigious Celtic revival festival in Dublin. In order for the several performances to turn out splendidly, Mrs. Kearney spends extra money on the daughter’s clothes, arranges the program, and orders several tickets for...

(The entire section is 948 words.)

Grace: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Tom Kernan: a tea merchant and alcoholic

Messrs. Power, Cunningham, M’Coy and Fogarty—Tom Kernan’s friends
Mrs. Kernan—his wife

Father Purdon—priest running the “businessman’s retreat” at the local church

Summary
The beginning of “Grace” finds Tom Kernan, a tea merchant, lying face-down and drunk on the lavatory floor of a Dublin pub. Helpless and incoherent, Kernan is saved from further embarrassment by his friend, Mr. Power, who delivers him home to his wife.

Two days later, Kernan receives three visitors: Messrs. Power, Cunningham, and M’Coy. Unbeknownst to Kernan, Power has informed Mrs. Kernan that the three...

(The entire section is 1064 words.)

The Dead: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Gabriel Conroy: teacher and amateur writer

Gretta Conroy: his wife

Julia and Kate Morkan: Gabriel’s aging aunts, piano and voice teachers in Dublin

Mary Jane: Gabriel’s cousin, an unmarried piano teacher who lives with the aunts

Molly Ivors: Gabriel’s colleague and passionate Irish nationalist various party guests of the Morkans

Michael Furey: (dead) adolescent love of Gretta Conroy

Summary
At the opening of “The Dead,” Gabriel Conroy, a teacher and amateur writer, arrives with his wife, Gretta, at a Christmas party given by his aunts, Julia and Kate Morkan. Though the mood of the annual affair is festive,...

(The entire section is 1764 words.)