How are 'endings' effective in the stories included in Dubliners?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One Joycean ending I will never forget is the empty depressed atmosphere at the close of 'The Dead' short story. Gabriel realizes that after all the diligent steady work he has put into his life, the solicitous attentions to his aunts, the impressing of newly independent young women in his peer group - all is for nothing and his life feels pointless. There is an awful hollowness in this story as a man, who thought he was a success in some small way,gazes at his sleeping wife and realizes he can never love her with the fullness of a previous old flame from her past. She had just admitted that she felt deeply for a young and suffering sweetheart. This tragic tale has a bitter sweet romantic feel to it and Gabriel realizes that he can never compete with the dead. The ending is effective as his gut-wrenching disappointment, sense of bereavement and emotional pain are accentuated visually by snowflakes falling outside. They cover up so much, making the living and the dead of Ireland seem identical for a time.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the hallmarks of Joyce's style is the way that he uses epiphanies in his endings to this collection of stories. All of them end with an epiphany, which can be defined as a moment of sudden insight or revelation experienced by a character. Interestingly, before Joyce coined the phrase to refer to his literature, an epiphany only referred to a religious experience, a moment during which a person felt intense connection with the divine or understood an important truth that he hadn't before.

Thus it is that the protagonist in "Araby," for example, experiences a sudden moment of insight at the end of the tale, realising his own insignificance of his hopes and dreams:

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

Likewise, Gabriel in "The Dead" has a similar experience at the end of the tale as he processes what Gretta, his wife, has told him about Michael Furey and he realises his own shallowness and superficiality.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial