Dubliners Suggested Essay Topics
by James Joyce

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Suggested Essay Topics

The Sisters
1. Discuss the concept of paralysis as it relates to as many characters in the story as applicable.

2. The boy says that the word “paralysis”…”filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work.” If the boy fears the concept of paralysis, how do you interpret his fascination with it?

An Encounter
1. The narrator says that Leo Dillon’s pudgy face “awakened one of my consciences.” How do you interpret the fact that he has more than one conscience?

2. In what ways are the situations of this narrator and the narrator in “The Sisters” similar? In what ways are they different?

1. The narrator is bitterly disappointed at the end of the story. Do you believe he has “set himself up” for this disappointment, or did external events cause this to happen? Explain.

2. Bearing in mind the narrator’s disappointment at the story’s end, might anything positive arise from this painful revelation? Elaborate on what you feel might be the consequences.

1. Discuss the parallels and differences between Frank’s role in Eveline’s life and her father’s role.

2. Joyce juxtaposes an image of the mother’s final delirium and Eveline’s concept of “escape.” Discuss why these two images are next to one another in the story.

After the Race
1. Explain the parallel relationship(s) between Jimmy’s heavy gambling losses, his ambiguous investment, and his father’s support of that investment.

2. Interpret the line during the young men’s “merriment” when the author tells us: “Jimmy took his part with a will; this was seeing life, at least!”

Two Gallants
1. Joyce’s description of Corley is overly male or macho, while Lenehan seems more effeminate. What is the meaning of this polarity among the two friends?

2. What attitude does Lenehan demonstrate throughout the story regarding Corley’s abuses of women? Does he approve, disapprove, or is he torn? Explain his emotional stance.

The Boarding House
1. Discuss the ironic parallels between Mrs. Mooney’s marital situation (as a young woman) and her daughter’s current situation.

2. Waiting for Mrs. Mooney’s demand, Bob thinks to himself: “Perhaps they could be happy together….” Considering the situation, prognosticate the likelihood of a successful marriage between Polly and Bob Doran.

A Little Cloud
1. How is Little’s situation similar to that experienced by the narrator in “Araby”?

2. Explain the significance of Little’s relationship to his wife as portrayed at the end of the story. What is the meaning of the episode with her blouse, and what does it say about Little’s relationship to her? To women in general?

1. Discuss the ultimate cost of Farrington’s witty retort to his boss.

2. Draw the parallels between Little Chandler’s circumstances and Farrington’s. Why has Joyce juxtaposed their stories?

1. How does Maria’s attitude compare with Eveline’s? Does either of the characters stand a chance at happiness?

2. Maria is a good person but not a balanced one. How (if at all) do her good intentions mitigate the...

(The entire section is 788 words.)