Author James Joyce
Title Dubliners – The Dead
1. Features of the text
Love, sex, family, death and life
Realistic, poetic, descriptive, a little tragic
External but not omniscient
Characters and their interactions
-Gabriel Coonroy is the protagonist. The story is focused on his thoughts about life and about his lost love. He’s very proud at the beginning, but later in the story, especially after the conversation with Mrs. Ivors, his frustration starts to come out as an indecisive and instable attitude.
-Gretta Conroy is Gabriel’s wife. She’s quite cold and disconnected until she remembers Furey, when she appears as very emotional and unclear.
-The Morkans are the hosts of the ball. They’re all different, but they’re all kind and generous. While Julia is a little grumpy and grey, Kate is more vivacious.
-Other importants characters are Lily, Mrs. Ivors, Mr. Browne, Freddy Malins, Bartell D’Arcy
The Morkan sisters and their niece Mary Jane have organized their traditional Christmas party for their family and friends. The main guests are Gabriel Conroy, the Morkans’ favourite nephew, and his wife Gretta. Gabriel is charged with some important duties, such as carving the goose and telling the final speech. After the dance and the supper, everybody praises the success of the party and the great hospitality of the Morkan family. Gabriel and Gretta are about to leave for a hotel room, when Gretta stops on the stairs to listen to a song, The Lass of Aughrim, sung by the tenor Bartell D’Arcy. Gretta is clearly moved by this song and Gabriel admires her in all her beauty. When they arrive at the hotel, Gabriel wants to love his wife both romantically and physically, but Gretta bursts into tears. She tells her husband that she was moved by D’Arcy’s song because Michael Furey, who loved her a long time before, used to sing the same song. Unexpectedly sad, Gabriel gives up on his feelings and starts reflecting on life and death, and how an end comes upon all things in the world, looking at the outside under a completely different light.
2. Personal Response
a. Find an effective paragraph pages 216 – 217
b. Quote a remarkable thought, image or other in it
“She leaned for a moment on his arm in getting out of the cab and while standing at the curbstone, bidding the others good-night. She leaned lightly on his arm, as lightly as when she had danced with him a few hours before. He had felt proud and happy then, happy that she was his, proud of her grace and wifely carriage. But now, after the kindling again of so many memories, the first touch of her body, musical and strange and perfumed, sent through him a keen pang of lust. Under cover of her silence he pressed her arm closely to his side; and, as they stood at the hotel door, he felt that they had escaped from their lives and duties, escaped from home and friends and run away together with wild and radiant hearts to a new adventure.”
Extract (identify and give a suitable title to a meaningful, self-contained extract):
Page 225 title Snow
“A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”
Historical and/or social background to be considered for a better understanding of the text
Dubliners contains a portrait of life in the Irish capital. Joyce focuses on children and adults who skirt the middle class. In Joyce’s collection the Irish could observe and study themselves. These portraits were probably the consequence of a middle class life beginning and, of course, of the fact of living in Dublin.