What is significant or symbolic about the title "The Dead"?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Death is ever present in Joyce's "The Dead"—literally, figuratively, and most importantly of all, culturally. Yet meaningful communication dies a death too. Ireland's status as a British imperial backwater means that there is no longer a distinctive Irish voice that can tap into the age-old tradition of European culture. This lack of a distinctive cultural voice manifests itself in either a parochial Irish nationalism or a supine acceptance of continued British rule. In his own writing, Joyce consciously set out to remedy the deficiency.

The death of meaningful communication is shown by Lily's tart response to Gabriel's polite inquiry as to when she might get married. Gabriel's unionist affiliations effectively cut him off from the lower orders in Irish society, as represented by Lily. This earns him the contempt of Miss Ivors, off to the Gaelic-speaking Aran Islands on a cultural jaunt. He is not an Irishman, she says, but a West Briton, a derogatory epithet for an Irish unionist.


(The entire section contains 2 answers and 792 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team