Grace: Questions and Answers
1. Considering the title, why is Kernan’s fall ironic?
2. Comment on the meaning of grace in the following quote: “[Kernan] had never been seen in the city without a silk hat of some decency and a pair of gaiters. By grace of these two articles of clothing, he said, a man could always pass muster.”
3. Why is it ironic that Mrs. Kernan celebrated her anniversary by waltzing with her husband “to Mr. Power’s accompaniment”?
4. What is significant about Mr. M’Coy’s comment that the Jesuits are “the boyos [that] have influence”?
5. When Kernan recollects hearing Fr. Tom Burke preach, he recalls that he sat in “back near the door.” What does this symbolize?
6. Mr. Kernan refers to the lighting of a sacramental candle as “the magic-lantern business.” What does his attitude tell us about his belief?
7. What is the symbolism of the “distant speck of red light” in the Gardiner Street church?
8. Why does Purdon appear to be “struggling up” to the pulpit for his sermon?
9. Why does Joyce tell us the priest covers his face with hands when he prays towards the light?
10. What is ironic about the concept of a priest acing as a “spiritual accountant” for these men?
1. In the sense that grace connotes “graceful,” Kernan stumbles because he’s drunk. He lacks grace of the spiritual or physical kind.
2. For Kernan, his friends, and even Fr. Purdon, grace is seen as something superficial. Kernan believes that if he looks presentable on the surface, he can “pass muster.”
3. Even though Kernan has not been a good husband, Power is determined to keep the couple together; he acts as their bond.
4. All of the men consider spirituality a “business” matter, so it’s ironic and humorous that M’Coy would talk about priests...
(The entire section is 457 words.)