One literary trope is the common one of eating dinner alone and using that time to ponder one's life. Lenehan does that when he eats peas and drinks ginger beer at a dive. He realizes he is thirty-one and going nowhere. He longs for the familiar trope or cliché of...
One literary trope is the common one of eating dinner alone and using that time to ponder one's life. Lenehan does that when he eats peas and drinks ginger beer at a dive. He realizes he is thirty-one and going nowhere. He longs for the familiar trope or cliché of home and hearth:
He thought how pleasant it would be to have a warm fire to sit by and a good dinner to sit down to.
In the quote above, "a warm fire" and a "good dinner" are images that contrast with Lenehan as a drifter, "leech," and petty thief. He dreams of stability and family.
"Leech" is a cliched figure of speech that stands for someone who lives off of others. It calls to mind the way leeches suck blood from a human body. The peas and ginger beer are also used figuratively, meaning more than simply a meal that Lenehan eats: they are green and orange items, the color of the Irish flag, symbolizing how Lenehan is trapped by the limitations and lack of vision in Irish life.
The prostitute his friend Corley is exploiting to steal for him is dressed in a way that is figurative. Literally, she is wearing blue and white, but these colors have added or figurative meaning as the colors of the Virgin Mary:
She wore a blue dress and a white sailor hat.
The Catholic Church restricts women in Ireland with its strict moral values, forcing them to become either virgins or prostitutes. It is ironic, or the opposite of what we would expect, that a prostitute wears the Virgin's colors, expressing the trope of how Ireland has sold its soul, just as a prostitute sells her body.
Finally, Lenehan's wanderings through Dublin reflect the trope of the wanderer who gets nowhere, ending up back where he started. Like other characters in these short stories, Lenehan is trapped in a cycle of life from which he can't escape.