The Dead: Questions and Answers
1. What function does the “fringe of snow” on Gabriel’s coat play at the story’s beginning?
2. When Mary Jane plays the piano, “the only persons who seemed to follow the music was Mary Jane herself.” What does this signify?
3. Why is it ironic that Molly Ivors and Gabriel dance to an Irish tune during their argument?
4. During the argument, Gabriel “wanted to say that literature was above politics,” but he doesn’t. What is Joyce’s opinion about that belief?
5. What is signified by the fact that Gabriel—standing in the party—longs to “walk out alone, first along the river and then through the park”?
6. What is ironic about Aunt Julia’s choice of song for the guests: “Arrayed for the Bridal”?
7. Why does Gabriel’s mood suddenly lift right before dinner?
8. Gabriel’s toast to “the past, of youth, […] of absent faces” is ironic in light of Gretta’s later revelation, why?
9. Gabriel gazes at his wife who stands in “a dark part of the hall.” What does this tell us about his relationship to her?
10. What is the “impalpable and vindictive being” that overtakes Gabriel...
(The entire section is 386 words.)