What role do domestic (homes) and religious spaces/settings play to represent the grimness of Dublin in Dubliners by James Joyce?

Expert Answers

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

Authors often use descriptions of settings and locations in their writings to help establish the mood, draw attention to a character's station in life, or illustrate the era in which the writing is taking place. James Joyce uses both domestic and religious spaces in his collection of short stories Dubliners to show the stark, grim side of Dublin. Since Dubliners is a collection of short stories and not a traditional novel, the settings vary extremely from story to story. They take place in small homes and in bars and restaurants. There are concert halls, crowded bazaars, and quiet hotel rooms. Each setting lays bare Dublin's grimness in this time of civil unrest.

"A Little Cloud" is set in part in a somewhat disreputable bar, rife with cigar smoke. This bar is the grim backdrop where two old friends commiserate and where Chandler begins to see that his own dreams may never come to pass. In this instance, the bar seems to represent the hopelessness of yearning for things we cannot have.

"The Sisters" uses Father Flynn's home as a grim setting of sickness and death. The boy walks by the house each day after Father Flynn falls ill and looks through the windows for signs of Flynn's death. At one point after Flynn's death, people are gathered around his open coffin in Flynn's own sparsely decorated home. The fact that such a chilling funerary ritual is set in such a private location shows the grimness of Dublin through the harsh reality of sickness and death.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial