Explain what we learn about Gabriel Conroy from his own thoughts in "The Dead".

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e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most of what we learn about Gabriel Conroy comes from his thoughts. Specifically, his daydreams are telling in regards to his character.

At one point during the party, Gabriel retreats to the window, places his fingers on the pane, and yearns to be outside. He is conscious of his preference for being somewhere else and he wishes to be released from the various pressures and oppressions of the party. 

Early on he reflects on the speech he is to give, worrying that he will fail everyone by aiming too high with a particular quotation.His lack of confidence is not, however, paralleled by a lack of pride. 

He believes that if he quotes poetry by Robert Browning in his dinner speech, his audience will not understand his ‘‘superior education.’’

Gabriel holds himself in a certain, rather high regard. 

lisu10 | Student

Gabriel comes to realize that he has never experienced the kind of love his wife has. That he has never cared to, or discovered her feelings, her intimate personality.

He feels his life has been, and still is ,empty and pointless.

He has lived a formal, uninteresting, dull, conventional life, always doing what was expected of him.

And in the end of the story, his melancholy, the absence of meaning in his life, drives him to consider death and decay as his only way out of such a sad, dull existence. He has never loved intensely. He is only a spiritually  poor human being, in spite of his culture and social position.

And he can see too, that women are deeper, more sensitive human beings than men.

Shame on you, Gabriel.....

You have missed every chance to become a loving person.

Lisu Brodsky