James Joyce’s “The Dead” is a short story with many interesting themes and there are thus many interesting thesis statements one could write about it. Consider how Gabriel is a man who struggles with pride and vanity and needs to learn the importance of humility. A thesis statement might make an argument about what Joyce is specifically saying about these traits. For instance, a thesis could argue that this story suggests the need for self-reflection, as pride can be a man’s downfall, or that it stresses the importance of humility for authentic human connections.
Another potential thesis statement could focus on what Joyce is discussing about Irish identity and nationalism. Consider how Gabriel’s friend Molly Ivors critiques Gabriel for not going to the Aran Isles and for not keeping up with the Irish language. Gabriel’s blunt reply that he is sick of his country suggests that his sense of self is disconnected from his ethnicity. Molly also critiques Gabriel for writing for a British newspaper as a Catholic, which highlights tensions regarding Irish independence. A thesis statement might argue that by portraying Gabriel as an ignorant person who disrespects Irish identity, Joyce is critiquing those who do not support Irish independence.