What is the role of the author in "The Dead"? Explain it using a quotation.

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The character of Gabriel in “The Dead” is a professor who is a part-time author. He represents those who cling to the past and cannot understand how to negotiate modern changes.

Gabriel has published several reviews in a local paper, The Daily Express. The reader learns this through a conversation between Gabriel and Molly Ivors, another teacher, who initially claims to disapprove both of the paper and of the works he has published. Gabriel and Molly disagree about the relationship between literature and other facets of life. Miss Ivors says that she is “ashamed” of Gabriel because he writes “for a paper like that.” Molly, an ardent Irish patriot, criticizes Gabriel for writing for a paper that sympathizes with the English; she uses the term “West Briton” for his Anglophile position.

Gabriel does not agree with her point of view. He has a deep regard for all kinds of literature and is pleased that his articles have been published. He is portrayed as particularly interested in Robert Browning, about whom he has written his most recent article. Gabriel’s authorial output consists primarily of criticism. He writes a weekly literary column for the paper, for which he earns fifteen shillings. As Gabriel converses with Molly, he reflects on what writing this column means to him. It is clear from his musings, which he does not share with Molly, that the love for literature is Gabriel’s true, deep motivation for writing. Not only the content but also the books themselves are beloved.

The books he received for review were almost more welcome than the paltry cheque. He loved to feel the covers and turn over the pages of newly printed books. Nearly every day when his teaching in the college was ended he used to wander down the quays to the second-hand booksellers, to Hickey’s on Bachelor’s Walk, to Web’s or Massey’s on Aston’s Quay, or to O’Clohissey’s in the bystreet. He did not know how to meet her charge. He wanted to say that literature was above politics.

Gabriel knows that he is something of a snob. He is generally conscious of having superior knowledge of literature than most of his social circle. As Molly is a colleague, he knows that she would see through any pretensions he adopts. Rather than claiming literature to be superior, Gabriel “murmured lamely that he saw nothing political in writing reviews of books.”

Molly’s negative opinion shakes up Gabriel somewhat. She leaves the holiday party at his aunts’ home, while he continues to think over what to say in his after-dinner speech. Rather than confronting Molly while she is there, the writer speaks out in favor of Irish cultural tradition—but focuses on “hospitality” as its core. He then gives a lukewarm endorsement of the ideas and principles of the “new generation,” which is

serious and enthusiastic for these new ideas and its enthusiasm, even when it is misdirected, is, I believe, in the main sincere. But we are living in a sceptical and, if I may use the phrase, a thought-tormented age: and sometimes I fear that this new generation, educated or hypereducated as it is, will lack those qualities of humanity, of hospitality, of kindly humour which belonged to an older day.

Gabriel speaks with fond nostalgia of “those dead and gone great ones whose fame the world will not willingly let die.” He seems afraid of both the present and the future.

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