Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Dublin. Ireland’s capital city, which had a population of some three hundred thousand people in the early twentieth century. Joyce, who grew up in Dublin, once told a publisher that no writer had yet presented the city to the world, a situation that he hoped this book would rectify. Dubliners does indeed give a strikingly detailed picture of the city, with attention to its topography and the texture of its daily life.
In many stories, characters traverse Dublin on foot, and Joyce carefully records their movements, naming actual streets, bridges, public squares, churches, monuments, shops, and pubs along the way. In “Two Gallants,” for example, he creates a kind of verbal “map” of central Dublin, tracing the long, circuitous route that the aging Lenehan follows—first with his friend Corley and then alone—during a warm gray August evening. Lenehan’s wanderings give texture to the story, helping create a sense of Dublin as an actual place. He and Corley hear a harpist playing mournful music for a small group of listeners on Kildare Street. Later, Lenehan visits a shabby shop where he eats a solitary meal of grocers’ peas and ginger beer. Near the end of his wanderings, he watches the late-night crowds dispersing on Grafton Street, one of Dublin’s most fashionable shopping areas. Such details not only give the story a strong sense of place, they also allow Joyce to suggest the frustration and futility...
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As he portrays it in his work, Joyce’s Dublin was composed mostly of lower-to middle-class residents oppressed by financial hardships, foreign political dominance, fractiousness among rival Irish nationalist groups, and the overwhelming influence of the Irish Catholic Church. Combined, in Joyce’s eyes, these forces and travails left the ordinary Dubliner with few options for self-expression or freedom of the soul; hence, Joyce’s theme of “paralysis” was established.
In the late 1800s, Ireland was still reeling from the agricultural disasters of mid-century and the massive Irish immigration (mainly to the United States) that followed. Several references in the stories suggest that well-paying employment was scarce and that even working class Dubliners struggled under subsistence wages. Consistently throughout the stories, characters agonize over a crown or even a shilling; this underscores the prevailing financial difficulties among most citizens.
Politically, Ireland was ruled by the British monarchy, and the attitude among the Irish towards the occupying British ranged from one of skepticism and distrust to open hostility. In addition to its aversion to Catholicism, the British government disdained the Irish for their general lack of education (especially in the countryside), their superstitious ways, and the often squalid living conditions necessitated by the country’s weak economy. That the British profited from its...
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The title of the volume immediately draws our attention to the importance of the setting—both place and time unites these diverse stories. Joyce creates a panorama of Dublin by presenting a series of portraits of Dubliners in the grip of a moral paralysis he believed to be the city's overwhelming attribute. As he indicates in a 1906 letter to the publisher Grant Richards, "My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis. . . . I have written it for the most part in a style of scrupulous meanness and with the conviction that he is a very bold man who dares to alter in the presentment, still more to deform whatever he has seen and heard." Dubliners, then, emerged from the author's dissatisfaction with the city of his birth, and his hope for the book was that it might show the indifferent public a necessarily unflattering portrait of itself.
Joyce's early years in Dublin, the years during which he wrote much of Dubliners, coincided with a pregnant pause in the political movement toward the Home Rule of which Irish nationalists dreamed. The downfall in 1889-90 of the Irish Party leader Charles Stewart Parnell in the wake of a public scandal (he was named as corespondent in a successful divorce suit and subsequently married the divorced woman, Parnell's long-time mistress, Katherine O Shea) appeared to have foiled once again the cause...
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The Sisters: Questions and Answers
1. Interpret the significance of the first sentence.
2. When the boy dreams of Fr. Flynn, why does he “try to think of Christmas”?
3. The boy, considering the intricacies of Church doctrine, thinks: “I wondered how anybody had ever found the courage to undertake [learning] them.” Explain the irony in this.
4. When viewing the body, the boy says that the candles looked like “pale thin flames.” What is the symbolism of this?
5. When Flynn was paralyzed, he dropped his breviary to the floor. Can you interpret this?
6. When Eliza reminisces about her brother, she says that when he was ill, “You wouldn’t hear him in the house any more than now.” Why is this ironic?
7. Eliza blames the Flynn’s dropping of the chalice on the [altar] boy. How does this relate to the narrator?
8. According to his sister, Flynn had dreamed of renting “one of them new-fangled carriages” and riding around for the day, but never did. Is there significance in this?
9. What is the significance of the “idle chalice” on the priest’s chest?
10. After viewing the body, the boy doesn’t take any refreshment, nor does he talk about the priest. What does this signify?
1. “No hope” is the theme of the Dubliners’ lives. The “third” stroke indicates both the holy trinity and the three times...
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An Encounter: Questions and Answers
1. Why is it surprising that Joe Dillon chooses the priesthood for a vocation?
2. What is the overall significance of the statement: “Real adventures, I reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad”?
3. Explain how Leo Dillon represents the narrator’s conscience.
4. What is the symbolism of the color green in the story?
5. Why does Mahoney brag about having “totties”?
6. Why is Mahoney unconcerned about the bizarre qualities of the man, while the narrator notices them?
7. Why does the old man “seem to plead” with the boy “that [he] should understand him”?
8. What is the significance of Mahoney chasing the cat with a slingshot, and his focus on this?
9. Why does the narrator believe that the older man is repeating his statements about girls as if “he had learned them by heart”?
10. Why does the narrator listen to the older man’s warped dialog for so long before leaving?
1. Because he “played too fiercely” for the other children and is the most violent of the narrator’s acquaintances.
2. This concept permeates the lives of many of the Dubliners in this collection: Eveline, Little Chandler, Jimmy Doyle.
3. His “confused puffy face” awakens the narrator’s conscience at school; also, Leo chooses not to...
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Araby: Questions and Answers
1. Knowing how important religious symbols are in “Araby,” what do you make of the “wild garden” in the boy’s backyard, with its “central apple-tree”?
2. The first sentence of “Araby” describes the Christian Brothers’ School “set[ting] the boys free” at the day’s end. How is this wording significant?
3. Although the narrator is madly in love with Mangan’s sister, he reveals this to no one. What does this imply?
4. The narrator says that her name “sprang to his lips […] in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand.” Why isn’t he able to understand or interpret them?
5. What is the significance of the fact that Mangan’s sister cannot attend Araby because of a retreat?
6. After making his promise, the boy loses all interest in learning, stating that he began to “chafe against the work of school.” Why does he have this reaction?
7. When the uncle returns home late and is talking to himself, the boy states: “I could interpret these signs.” Can you?
8. Although the boy rides in a “special train for the bazaar,” its atmosphere doesn’t seem very special at all. What is the significance of this?
9. How does the salesgirl treat the narrator?
10. Why doesn’t the boy buy anything at the bazaar?
1. The “wild garden” reminds us of Adam...
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Eveline: Questions and Answers
1. What is the overwhelming characteristic of Eveline’s youthful memories?
2. Explain the significance of the nameless priest whose photo hangs on the wall.
3. Frank’s background is given, but he’s not physically described. Why not?
4. How can we tell that Eveline is not in love?
5. What is the significance of all the “dust” in the house?
6. Why is Eveline’s job at the Stores mentioned?
7. Why does Eveline find her life not “undesirable” at the moment she’s about to leave it?
8. Explain the significance of the Italian organ player’s music when Eveline is getting ready to leave.
9. Eveline is afraid both to go with Frank and to turn him away, especially “after all he had done for her.” What does this imply?
10. At the end of the story, Eveline clings to the gate and won’t follow Frank. Interpret this.
1. Everyone Eveline truly cared about is dead.
2. The father cares so little about his religion that he doesn’t even bother to remember the priest’s name. It is an empty symbol to him.
3. Eveline is so numb to the concept of love that Frank is hardly a reality to her. He’s a means of escape, but not one of which she avails herself.
4. Eveline believes “she had begun to like” Frank, but this is the only emotion mentioned regarding...
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After the Race: Questions and Answers
1. Interpret the significance of Jimmy’s inconsistent education.
2. Why is it meaningful that Jimmy’s father becomes wealthy only after he abandons his patriotic beliefs?
3. Jimmy’s investment in Segouin’s racecar is ambiguously described. Why has the author failed to provide further details?
4. Interpret the sentence: “Rapid motion through space elates one; so does notoriety; so does the possession of money.”
5. What’s ironic about Seguouin’s toast to “Humanity”?
6. The story describes the circuitous route taken by the “friends” as they wander around after the race. What is the symbolism implied in their wandering?
7. While they celebrate, the author writes that Dublin harbor “lay like a darkened mirror at their feet.” Is there significance in this?
8. Why does Jimmy’s father, a shrewd businessman, not question Jimmy’s investment more carefully?
9. Why is Jimmy unconcerned about his heavy losses at cards?
10. Why is it Villona who shouts, “Daybreak, gentlemen!”
1. The inconsistency signifies that Jimmy lacks focus; the overwhelmingly British influence of his education shows us that Jimmy’s family doesn’t value Irish culture.
2. This symbolizes the impoverished Irish nationalist movement.
3. The investment is obviously risky; it’s...
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Two Gallants: Questions and Answers
1. What is the symbolism of the “veiled moon” in this story?
2. Is there religious significance in Lenehan’s repeated statement that Corley’s exploits “take the biscuit”?
3. What effect can we draw from Corley’s always walking “as if he were on parade”?
4. Corley used to date a higher class of girls before he started dating a “slavey.” Why has he “traded down”?
5. The slavey is wearing blue and white for their date, the traditional colors of the Virgin Mary. What is the meaning of this?
6. After Corley leaves him, Lenehan is famished. What’s the significance of this?
7. Rather than just having encounters, Lenehan would like to “settle down” and “live happily.” What’s the importance of this?
8. Joyce goes to great lengths to represent Lenehan’s wandering route through the Dublin streets. Why?
9. Beyond the fact that the slavey’s stealing money for him is immoral, how does it connect to the fact that Corley’s former girlfriend is now “on the turf”?
10. Lenehan imagines “Corley’s voice in deep energetic gallantries.” What’s the irony in this?
1. The moon is traditionally a romantic image, but Corley’s treatment is abusive and contemptible; it’s hardly romantic.
2. Lenehan is Corley’s disciple in the underhanded treatment of women....
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The Boarding House: Questions and Answers
1. What is implied in the fact that Polly couldn’t continue to work in the corn-factor’s office?
2. Why is Mrs. Mooney so intent on her daughter marrying practically anyone?
3. How innocent was Polly’s initial approach to Bob Doran?
4. Interpret the statement: “She was an outraged mother.”
5. The “short twelve” Mrs. Mooney hopes to catch after her conversation is the abbreviated noon-time mass. What’s the symbolism implied in this?
6. Bob seeks religious counsel after the affair has become serious. What is the irony in this?
7. Why is Polly’s brother physically described before Bob talks to Mrs. Mooney?
8. Why does Joyce continually refer to Bob’s glasses becoming dim with moisture?
9. Why is the maid’s name Mary?
10. Why does Polly forget “what she had been waiting for”?
1. Due to her loose morals, she probably began a liaison with the “disreputable sheriff’s man.”
2. Without a husband, a young woman had absolutely no value and no rights at this time in society. In Mrs. Mooney’s eyes, a poor match was better than no husband at all.
3. Not very innocent at all. The clothing she wore (combined with her history as a flirt) leads us to believe it was calculated.
4. If Mrs. Mooney were outraged, she would have acted
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A Little Cloud: Questions and Answers
1. Why is Little made to appear so juvenile in the story?
2. What is the significance of Gallaher’s working for the London press?
3. Interpret the line about Little: “At times he repeated the lines [of poetry] to himself and this consoled him.”
4. Thinking of his meeting with Gallaher, Little feels “superior” to others “for the first time in his life.” Why and what does this represent?
5. The restaurant where Gallaher is to meet Little is a swanky spot, where the waiters “spoke French and German.” What’s the significance of this?
6. Why is Gallaher described as possessing an “unhealthy ¬pallor”?
7. What does Gallaher’s heavy drinking symbolize?
8. Why does Little “allow his whiskey to be very much diluted”?
9. Explain the ironic significance of the two men’s very different physical descriptions.
10. What is the irony of Little’s tears at the story’s end?
1. This description heightens our sense of his helplessness.
2. Britain ruled Ireland by a hostile and colonial mandate. Most Irish hated England’s presence, and allusions to Britain are almost always negative and corrupt symbols in Joyce.
3. Little is content to repeat meaningless motions rather than move forward, the idea of which frightens him.
4. Little feels the reflected...
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Counterparts: Questions and Answers
1. What tone does Alleyne take when reprimanding Farrington?
2. Why does Joyce describe Alleyne as small and egg-shaped in appearance?
3. Where does Farrington imply that he’s been going all afternoon?
4. What is suggested by the fact that Farrington holds out for an extra shilling (a small amount) at the pawnbroker’s?
5. What is the symbolism implied in Farrington’s pawning of his watch?
6. The bartender is referred to as a “curate.” What’s the irony in this?
7. What is the significance of the alluring woman at the bar?
8. Farrington’s wife is at the chapel when he returns. What is the irony in this?
9. Why is Farrington so often referred to as “the man” instead of by name?
10. Why can’t Farrington recognize which of his children approaches him at the end of the story?
1. He condescends to Farrington as if the latter were a child, implying Farrington’s absolute powerlessness.
2. Alleyne is childlike in appearance, indicating that he, too, is powerless among his own level. None of these characters has meaningful control over his destiny.
3. He implies that he’s been visiting the men’s room, but it isn’t believed.
4. It indicates how broke Farrington actually is.
5. The watch represents time and the future. However, he...
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Clay: Questions and Answers
1. Joyce had originally intended to title this story “Hallowe’en.” Why was the title changed to “Clay”?
2. To what degree is Maria able to develop a relationship at her job?
3. How does Maria’s early relationship with her nephews compare to her present one?
4. What is the irony of Maria’s description as a “peace-maker”?
5. Why is Joyce’s description of Maria so grotesque?
6. Why, ironically, is Maria able to converse with the man on the train?
7. What is the significance of Joe’s drinking problem?
8. How can we tell that Maria is alienated from Joe’s children?
9. What is the ironic parallel between Maria visiting on Halloween and her description?
10. What is the significance of Maria’s “mistake” in the song?
1. Clay is lifeless, like the meaningless relationships represented in this story.
2. She can develop no close relationships, since she works among Protestants (who do not share her religion) and lower class women (who do not share her lifestyle).
3. Although able to love them as children, Maria is too self-conscious to feel at ease with Joe now, and Alphy is far away.
4. The irony is that her two nephews no longer speak to one another, and it’s impossible for Maria to make peace between them.
5. The degree to which...
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A Painful Case: Questions and Answers
1. Mr. Duffy lives in Chapelizod, in legend associated with the great romance of Tristan and Isolde. Comment on the irony of this.
2. The reader is surprised to find a copy of Wordsworth’s poetry on Duffy’s shelf. Why?
3. Why is his liking for Mozart described as a dissipation?
4. Duffy collects quotations and communicates with Emily through them. What’s the significance of this?
5. Why does Duffy insist that they meet at her house?
6. Why has it never occurred to Duffy to publish his ideas?
7. When he first learns of Emily’s death, Duffy feels no responsibility. Why not?
8. Where does Duffy go to think about Emily, and why is this ironic?
9. Why does Joyce describe Duffy’s reading of the obituary as in Secreto, like a priest?
10. Explain the significance of the very last word of the story.
1. It’s ironic because Duffy is incapable of any love, let alone one as intense as that between Tristan and Isolde.
2. Wordsworth, probably one of the greatest Romantic poets of all time, expressed a desire to become more attuned to one’s emotions through an understanding of one’s environment and the natural world. Duffy is completely out of touch with his environment.
3. It is a dissipation in Duffy’s eyes, not Joyce’s. Duffy sees any enjoyment as somehow base....
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Ivy Day in the Committee Room: Questions and Answers
1. The men wear their collars turned up due to the weather. What is the irony in this?
2. Jack longs for the good old times of Ireland and Irish politics, but the younger men don’t. What does this imply?
3. Before he was a politician, what was Richard Tierney’s profession?
4. The men are extremely focused upon the arrival of the stout. What does this imply?
5. There’s irony in their distrust of Tierney in light of question #4. What is it?
6. Why is Fr. Keon described as looking like “a poor clergyman or a poor actor”?
7. What does Tierney’s connection with Keon imply?
8. What does O’Connor’s unwillingness to discuss Parnell’s history tell us?
9. What is the significance of all the contradictory elements in the story’s narrative?
10. Comment on Crofton’s response to Hyne’s poem at the very end of the story.
1. The irony is that the ivy (which they wear in Parnell’s honor) cannot be seen.
2. Jack, because he’s older, has a greater sense of Parnell’s significance, but the younger generation of Dublin politicians can’t recognize this.
3. He ran a used clothing store, taking advantage of people and over-charging them.
4. It implies that they’re alcoholics.
5. As soon as the stout arrives, their opinion of Tierney improves...
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A Mother: Questions and Answers
1. What is the significance of Mr. Holohan’s limp?
2. Why is Mrs. Kearney so overbearing and eager to showcase her daughter at any cost?
3. Explain the similarity between Mr. Holohan and Mr. Kearney.
4. The story’s controversy centers around Kathleen Kearney’s playing, but she never speaks. What the implication of this?
5. Madam Glynn, the English soprano, is described as “startled” and “meagre.” What does she represent?
6. What is ironic about the Eire Abu society?
7. What is Joyce’s implication in the poor quality of the performances artistes?
8. The name Healy was notorious in Joyce’s day because it was the name of one of Charles Parnell’s most famous political betrayers. What is the significance of Miss Healy’s name in this story?
9. What is the significance of the two groups of Irish fighting at a festival for Irish culture?
10. What is the significance of the “threats” at the story’s end?
1. It implies his ineffectiveness and incapacity; he symbolizes the Irish independence movement’s impotency.
2. She hopes to make her daughter a star in society.
3. They are both ineffective and weak men; therefore, Mrs. Kearney can manipulate them.
4. It implies that she’s as domineered by her mother as her father is; she’s merely a pawn or...
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Grace: Questions and Answers
1. Considering the title, why is Kernan’s fall ironic?
2. Comment on the meaning of grace in the following quote: “[Kernan] had never been seen in the city without a silk hat of some decency and a pair of gaiters. By grace of these two articles of clothing, he said, a man could always pass muster.”
3. Why is it ironic that Mrs. Kernan celebrated her anniversary by waltzing with her husband “to Mr. Power’s accompaniment”?
4. What is significant about Mr. M’Coy’s comment that the Jesuits are “the boyos [that] have influence”?
5. When Kernan recollects hearing Fr. Tom Burke preach, he recalls that he sat in “back near the door.” What does this symbolize?
6. Mr. Kernan refers to the lighting of a sacramental candle as “the magic-lantern business.” What does his attitude tell us about his belief?
7. What is the symbolism of the “distant speck of red light” in the Gardiner Street church?
8. Why does Purdon appear to be “struggling up” to the pulpit for his sermon?
9. Why does Joyce tell us the priest covers his face with hands when he prays towards the light?
10. What is ironic about the concept of a priest acing as a “spiritual accountant” for these men?
1. In the sense that grace connotes “graceful,” Kernan stumbles because he’s drunk. He lacks grace of the...
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The Dead: Questions and Answers
1. What function does the “fringe of snow” on Gabriel’s coat play at the story’s beginning?
2. When Mary Jane plays the piano, “the only persons who seemed to follow the music was Mary Jane herself.” What does this signify?
3. Why is it ironic that Molly Ivors and Gabriel dance to an Irish tune during their argument?
4. During the argument, Gabriel “wanted to say that literature was above politics,” but he doesn’t. What is Joyce’s opinion about that belief?
5. What is signified by the fact that Gabriel—standing in the party—longs to “walk out alone, first along the river and then through the park”?
6. What is ironic about Aunt Julia’s choice of song for the guests: “Arrayed for the Bridal”?
7. Why does Gabriel’s mood suddenly lift right before dinner?
8. Gabriel’s toast to “the past, of youth, […] of absent faces” is ironic in light of Gretta’s later revelation, why?
9. Gabriel gazes at his wife who stands in “a dark part of the hall.” What does this tell us about his relationship to her?
10. What is the “impalpable and vindictive being” that overtakes Gabriel when he learns that Michael Furey may have died for love of Gretta?
1. It foreshadows the importance of the snow imagery at the end of the story.
2. It signifies the sterile and...
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Discussions of Joyce's earlier fiction, Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, frequently center on those moments in which characters achieve an "epiphany" or sudden revelation. The term, which Joyce used to describe some of his earliest prose fragments, means, literally, a showing forth. In the Christian calendar, the feast of the Epiphany commemorates the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem to worship the new-born Christ. For Joyce, the word has a broader meaning, standing for a moment of insight, when a truth is suddenly revealed. Most of the stories in Dubliners do feature discernible epiphanies: the young boy in "Araby" clearly has a poignant moment of insight about his world as the bazaar lights dim, for instance, and Gabriel Conroy undergoes a terrible self-examination in the final moments of "The Dead." In other cases, such as that of Maria in "Clay," the insight eludes the character and falls instead to the reader. Either way, another instance of Dublin's paralysis stands revealed.
Joyce told Grant Richards that he had written Dubliners, in a famous phrase, in a style of "scrupulous meanness," his intent being to hold up to Dublin a relentlessly true image of itself. While the stories are remarkably pared down in style, their "scrupulous meanness" should not blind us to one of their most distinctive features: the manner in which they bring a distinctly Irish English to the page. One cannot read a line such...
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In a 1905 letter to Grant Richards, Joyce related his surprise that "no artist has given Dublin to the world," despite its antiquity, its size, and its status as the second city of the British Empire. Dubliners, an attempt to fill this void, certainly casts a critical eye over its subject, but that Joyce wanted so badly to "give Dublin to the world" indicates that his aim goes well beyond merely excoriating the city of his youth. That Joyce's attitude toward the city is a complex one is hardly surprising. He did, after all, feel compelled to leave the city for good, only to devote a life-long self-imposed exile to writing about the place in the most painstaking detail. Dubliners, then, is a powerfully ambivalent volume, characterized at least as much by Joyce's frustration with the shortcomings of the city and its inhabitants as his sympathy for and powerful attachment to them both. The volume is not uniformly generous toward all of the Dubliners contained therein: he certainly does ridicule the pretensions of Mrs. Kearney in "A Mother," for instance, and the vain politicians of "Ivy Day in the Committee Room," among others; however, the sympathetic notes struck in stories such as "Araby," "Clay," and "The Dead" overwhelm the satirical ones heard elsewhere in the volume and are more indicative of the direction Joyce's work will take in the future, particularly in his great human comedy, Ulysses. Dubliners suggests how profoundly individuals can...
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Topics for Discussion
1. Only the first three stories in the collection, the ones dealing with childhood, have first-person narrators; the remainder are told in the third-person. Why do you think this might be the case?
2. The manner in which the narrator of "Araby" imagines himself, Mangan's sister, and the "Araby" bazaar tells us much about his youthful perceptions of his world. How would you describe those perceptions? How does the imaginary picture he paints differ from the world in which he lives.
3. How does Joyce establish the characters of Mr. Doran, Mrs. Mooney, and Polly in "The Boarding House"? Why will Mr. Doran marry Polly? How aware is Polly of her mother's scheme?
4. Look carefully at Eveline's thoughts regarding the sailor, Frank, in "Eveline." Do you think she would have found happiness if she had gone to Buenos Aires with him? What evidence suggests that this might not have been the case?
5. The title of "A Little Cloud" alludes to a Biblical passage, I Kings 18:44: "And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand" The little cloud is the harbinger of a great rain, which the prophet Elijah summons to end a drought. What might be the significance of this allusion in Joyce's story?
6. In "The Dead," we get our first close look at Gabriel Conroy during his exchange with Lily, the caretaker's daughter. What does it reveal about him?...
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Ideas for Reports and Papers
1. The titles of the stories are not always straightforward descriptions of their contents, but they are often suggestive and worthy of careful consideration. Consider how one or more of the less obvious titles (such as "The Sisters," "A Little Cloud," "Counterparts," Clay, or "The Dead") influences your sense of the story's meaning.
2. Priests play some role in each of the three stories dealing with childhood: "The Sisters" tells of the death of Father Flynn; the narrator of "Araby" reads books discarded by the priest who was the former occupant of the boy's house; Joe Dillon, the supplier of the cherished boys' adventure magazines in "An Encounter" later has a vocation for the priesthood. How, in these early stories, is the church related to the "paralysis" that Joyce sets out to reveal?
3. Joyce often takes care to tell us precisely what his characters read. To give a few examples, the young boy in "Araby" reads Walter Scott's The Abbot, The Devout Communicant and The Memoirs of Vidocq; the boys in "An Encounter" read stories of the American West in the magazines The Union Jack, Pluck, and The Halfpenny Marvel; Mr. Duffy in "A Painful Case" has a volume of Wordsworth and a copy of the Maynooth Catechism on his carefully arranged shelves. Choose one story and find out something about the books to which Joyce alludes. What do they suggest about their reader? How do they contribute to your understanding of...
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One well-known American work that bears comparison with Dubliners is Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (1919), a collection of short stories based on the author's experiences in his home-town of Clyde, Ohio. Like many of his contemporaries, Joyce is indebted to the work of the Russian short-story writer (and playwright) Anton Chekhov (1860 -1904). Virtually all of Chekhov's short fiction is available in translation. Two good recent collections are Early Short Stories 1883-1888 and Later Short Stories 1888-1903 (both edited by Shelby Foote, Modern Library, 1999). Finally, Katherine Mansfield, a contemporary of Joyce's from New Zealand, also owes much to Chekhov. Readers who enjoy Dubliners will very likely want to look at some of her work, especially Bliss and Other Stories (1920) and The Garden Party and Other Stories (1922).
"The Dead" was adapted for the screen by director John Huston in 1987 with Donal McCann in the role of Gabriel and Anjelica Huston as Gretta. It received two Oscar nominations, including one for Tony Huston's screenplay. More recently, this same story was adapted for the musical stage by Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey. The 1999 Broadway production, starring Christopher Walken in the role of Gabriel Conroy, earned five Tony nominations and one award (for Best Book).
There are many audio recordings of the Dubliners stories. The most recent (HarperCollins, 2000) is a...
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For Further Reference
Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce. 1959. Revised edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982. This standard biography of Joyce draws upon a staggering amount of research and delivers a wonderfully detailed account of Joyce's life.
Gifford, Don. Joyce Annotated: Notes for Dubliners & A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. An invaluable companion to both of these works, Gifford's notes clarify many of Joyce's local references and allusions.
Joyce, James. Dubliners: Text, Criticism, and Notes. Edited by Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz. New York: Penguin, 1996. This edition includes extensive and often very helpful notes and commentary.
Tindall, William York. A Reader's Guide to James Joyce. New York: Noonday, 1959. This is an older but still useful study of all of Joyce's fiction that includes brief discussions of each of the Dubliners stories.
(The entire section is 135 words.)
Bibliography and Further Reading
Quotations from Dubliners are taken from the following edition:
Joyce, James. Dubliners. (1916) Eds. Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz. New York: The Viking Press, 1982.
Brandabur, Edward. “The Sisters.” Dubliners. eds. Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz. New York: The Viking Press, 1982. 333-343.
Ellmann, Richard. “The Backgrounds of ‘The Dead.’” Dubliners. eds. Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz. New York: The Viking Press, 1982. 388-403.
_____. James Joyce. New York: The Viking Press, 1975.
_____. ed. Selected Letters of James Joyce. New York: The Viking Press, 1975.
Joyce, Stanislaus. My Brother’s Keeper: James Joyce’s Early Years. New York: The Viking Press, 1958.
Litz, A. Walton. “Two Gallants.” Dubliners. eds. Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz. New York: The Viking Press, 1982. 368-387.
Stone, Harry. “‘Araby’ and the Writings of James Joyce.” Dubliners. eds. Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz. New York: The Viking Press, 1982. 344-367.
(The entire section is 141 words.)
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce. Rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982. A brilliantly researched biography that traces the stories to their biographical roots.
Hart, Clive, ed. James Joyce’s “Dubliners.” New York: Viking Press, 1969. A collection of essays by outstanding scholars, full of useful facts and insights.
Kenner, Hugh. Dublin’s Joyce. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956. Wide-ranging and inventive readings of Joyce’s works and sources.
Peake, C. H. James Joyce: The Citizen and the Artist. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1977. Comprehensive readings of Joyce as a writer who elucidates his time.
Wachtel, Albert. The Cracked Lookingglass: James Joyce and the Nightmare of History. London: Associated University Presses, 1992. Analyses of the texts as “fictional histories” in which cause and chance prove equally illuminating.
(The entire section is 123 words.)