What are the functions of the modernist open ending in "Eveline" and "The Dead" by James Joyce?  I don't know how to start or how to explain a thing :( Please Help me.Thanks

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In James Joyce's The Dubliners, the epiphanies of the characters are defined until after the story, "Araby."  After this story of adolescent awareness, the insights are left to the readers to discover.  By leaving these moments of enlightenment to the readers, Joyce makes his endings more symbolic, and, thus, gives them the potential of more than a single meaning in a truly Modernist fashion.

For instance, in "Eveline," the story subsequent to "Araby," Joyce employs water as the symbol of new life and emotional vitality that Eveline can attain.  Yet, at the same time, as she is to board the ship with Frank, she fears that "he would drown her" as "All the seas of the world [adult life] tumbled about her heart."  Thus, with the use of water, Joyce creates for the reader an ambivalence in Eveline and an ambiguity that leaves the insight to the reader.

Likewise, in "The Dead," the reflections of Gabriel are somewhat inconclusive as although Gabriel's condescension to others is replaced by an admiration of Gretta, his understanding of life is still partial.  The open ending of Joyce indicates this inconclusiveness as he watches the symbolic snow "falling faintly through the universe."

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