How does the writer criticize the main characters in "Two Gallants" by James Joyce?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Two Gallants" by James Joyce is a parody of romance stories where the he-protagonist(s) win the she-protagonist(s) and look forward to a legal wedding. The way these two gallants want to win the girl is to find a "good simple-minded girl with a little of the ready" (ready cash) to pay for living expenses; off of whom they can live. In this parody, the narrator doesn't directly comment; it is a distanced but not wholly unbiased narrator. It is through this biased but distanced narrator that Joyce criticizes the two gallants indirectly.

As one example, the narrator's descriptions of each man, along with revealing a bias against them, offer indirect criticism. Lenehan is described in the most servile terms as being forced from the curb of the walkway by his rude companion, the other gallant; laughing noiselessly, which is an unappealing personal trait; as being a leech; as being squat; as having "waves" of facial expression; and many more unsavory traits. Corley is similarly indirectly criticized in the narrator's description, which says his head sways side to side while he walks; his head is "oily" and "sweaty"; his conversation is all about himself; he speaks without listening in turn to those he is with. The most telling indirect criticism was already mentioned above: They don't work--except at the horse-race track--and want to live off of a "good simple-minded girl with a little of the ready."

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Two Gallants

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