Dubliners A Mother: Questions and Answers

James Joyce

A Mother: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the significance of Mr. Holohan’s limp?

2. Why is Mrs. Kearney so overbearing and eager to showcase her daughter at any cost?

3. Explain the similarity between Mr. Holohan and Mr. Kearney.

4. The story’s controversy centers around Kathleen Kearney’s playing, but she never speaks. What the implication of this?

5. Madam Glynn, the English soprano, is described as “startled” and “meagre.” What does she represent?

6. What is ironic about the Eire Abu society?

7. What is Joyce’s implication in the poor quality of the performances artistes?

8. The name Healy was notorious in Joyce’s day because it was the name of one of Charles Parnell’s most famous political betrayers. What is the significance of Miss Healy’s name in this story?

9. What is the significance of the two groups of Irish fighting at a festival for Irish culture?

10. What is the significance of the “threats” at the story’s end?

Answers
1. It implies his ineffectiveness and incapacity; he symbolizes the Irish independence movement’s impotency.

2. She hopes to make her daughter a star in society.

3. They are both ineffective and weak men; therefore, Mrs. Kearney can manipulate them.

4. It implies that she’s as domineered by her mother as her father is; she’s merely a pawn or instrument or her mother’s ambition.

5. She represents the negative influence British culture has on Ireland’s culture. Her presence adds nothing to the event.

6. Their name means “Ireland to Victory,” so it’s ironic that they can’t even successfully put on a talent show. This is Joyce’s sarcastic comment about ineffectual organizations that can’t approach Irish nationalism meaningfully.

7. He implies that their talents in the performing arts are akin to their “talents” as participants in Ireland’s independence.

8. When Kathleen refuses to perform out of principle, Miss Healy takes her place. Healy’s playing is a betrayal of her “great friend,” as was the case with Parnell.

9. It symbolizes the Irish conflict between Protestants (in the north) and Catholics (primarily in the south).

10. The threats are ambiguous and imply an unresolved conflict, just as the tension between the Irish (and with Britain) remained unresolved and bitter.