In the short story "After the Race" by James Joyce, the author continually reinforces the theme of class by describing the characters in terms of their socioeconomic status. For instance, when introducing the protagonist , Jimmy Doyle, Joyce emphasizes his background. His father started out as a humble butcher...
In the short story "After the Race" by James Joyce, the author continually reinforces the theme of class by describing the characters in terms of their socioeconomic status. For instance, when introducing the protagonist, Jimmy Doyle, Joyce emphasizes his background. His father started out as a humble butcher in Kingstown but made a lot of money by opening additional shops in Dublin and its suburbs. This allowed him to send Jimmy to Dublin University and then to Cambridge, where he met Charles Ségouin, the owner of the car they had been racing in and "some of the biggest hotels in France." Jimmy's father considers the term at Cambridge worthwhile because his son was able to meet people like Ségouin, who in his father's opinion is "well worth knowing." Jimmy's Hungarian friend Villona, on the other hand, is considered "entertaining" but "unfortunately, very poor." We see from these comments that Jimmy's father and Jimmy himself are very class conscious.
As the story continues, we learn that one reason for Jimmy's excitement is that "he had been seen by many of his friends that day in the company" of Ségouin and his cousin André Riviére. Jimmy and his father are pleased to be investing in Ségouin's motor business. Jimmy considers himself wealthy, thinking that "he really had a great sum under his control," but he is aware that Ségouin "would not think it a great sum." Ségouin, in Jimmy's assessment, has "the unmistakable air of wealth." These are further indications that Jimmy is acutely conscious of his class position and those of his friends.
In Jimmy's home, the dinner with Ségouin and Riviére "had been pronounced an occasion." In other words, it is of great importance to his parents. There is "a certain pride mingled with his parents' trepidation." His parents are full of pride because Jimmy is advancing to camaraderie with those of a higher socioeconomic class.
When Jimmy is invited to supper and a card game aboard a yacht, he concludes that this is "seeing life, at least," indicating that, in Jimmy's opinion, when people ascend to higher classes, their lives are somehow worthier and more profound. After Jimmy loses at cards, he realizes it is "folly" that he "will regret in the morning" because, unlike the others, he does not have unlimited financial resources.