How are the stories in Dubliners interlinked?

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The stories, as the title indicates, are linked together by the Dublin (Irish) experience as Joyce understood it. They are also linked by the experimental method Joyce used to end each story. Instead of finishing with the resolution of an external problem, the stories end at a moment of insight...

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The stories, as the title indicates, are linked together by the Dublin (Irish) experience as Joyce understood it. They are also linked by the experimental method Joyce used to end each story. Instead of finishing with the resolution of an external problem, the stories end at a moment of insight the main character experiences. Joyce called this moment an epiphany.

For example, the story "Araby," often read as a stand-alone tale, ends with the boy narrator's anguished realization he can't escape the sordid reality of Dublin for the world of his dreams. It seems to end abruptly, in mid-stream. We don't know what happens, for instance, between the narrator and the girl, Mangan's sister, he wanted to impress, because that does not matter. What matters is his emotional realization. Likewise, in the long final story of the book, "The Dead," Gabriel realizes that the dead are part of us, the living. This doesn't necessarily resolve the sudden tension he feels with his wife over her former beloved, but it does mean that Gabriel has experienced inner growth.

The term epiphany comes from the day the magi went to visit the infant Jesus with gifts, realizing he was the foretold Messiah. This biblical tale is a hopeful story of positive insight. Therefore, the epiphanies these characters experience, though painful, can be framed by the larger context of the hope for spiritual renewal they foreshadow.

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Joyce broke the stories into four sections: childhood, adolescence, maturity, and public life. Through these different movements of life, Joyce explores what he called the paralysis in Dublin, which occurs in some distinct way in all of his stories. Each story seems to address an aspect of emptiness, and repetitions of that motif, as well as of death, pervade the collection. In some ways these moments of moral or spiritual emptiness or paralysis cause of the problems that occurs in individual stories, but the characters' failings lead to the general paralysis Joyce detected in Dublin.

The first story, "The Sisters," meditates on these themes, as the young boy deals with the old priest's paralysis and death. The final story, "The Dead," deals with people who like Michael Furey who have died but remain vibrant versus those who like Gabriel are alive but live a life of dead thoughts and paralyzed feelings. Between these two, Joyce addresses Dublin's loss of vitality and the little moments, or epiphanies, that bring to consciousness that failure to live fully.

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The stories in James Joyce's book Dubliners are linked by setting and theme. All are set in the Irish city Dublin, and each one deals with some aspect of morality. Joyce described society as being in a "moral paralysis" and explained that his intention in writing these stories was "to write a chapter of the moral history of my country."

See the eNotes article on Themes and Characters (linked below) for discussion of how the stories reflect moral dilemmas in different times of life.

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