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Story of Dubliners sample essay

The very first story of Dubliners outlines a large theme that can overlay much of the book and may in part be why James Joyce decided to group all of these short stories into one book. The first short story called “Two Sisters” focuses on the paralysis of a young boy as the impending death of his mentor Father Flynn draws closer. The boy walks past the priest’s home showing that a part of him cannot let go and that he himself is paralyzed by the loss of his friend and mentor who was prepping him for the priesthood. In the first paragraph of the book the narrator talks of the word paralysis and says “It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work” (Joyce, 3).

The quote summarizes a recurring theme throughout Dubliners and prepares the reader by showing how paralysis in life is dangerous and leads to unhappiness. The story following “Two Sisters” is called “An Encounter” which is about two boys and their adventures while skipping school. Seeking escape from everyday life the boys decide to skip school and have an adventure much like the adventures that Mahoney reads in his books. At the start of their day their original plan is working out for them apart from the fact that Joe Dillon who promised to join them was a no show.

However, the title suggests that something would happen to the boys. While they are in a field they see an older man coming right towards them. The old man is particularly creepy towards the boys after asking them about their girlfriends and then leaving walking to another part of the field and then coming back talking of beating Mahoney. Faced by this odd situation the narrator feels paralyzed from taking some sort of action to avoid the old man. Mahoney ran off chasing a cat, but the narrator stayed and instead of leaving as well, the peculiarity of the situation keeps him from acting. The narrator does not respond to the man and sits hoping for the moment to just pass by. Only at the very end of the story is the narrator able to stand up and break free from his paralysis.

The next story in Dubliners called “Araby”, centers around a younger boy who has a crush on his friend’s sister who is likely a few years older. Her presence in the story greatly resembles “An Encounter” because she is seen as an escape to the narrator. She allows him to break away from the dull dragging on everyday life by giving the boy over romanticized thoughts. He goes to the bazaar to get her a gift, however he arrives late and does not have as much money as wanted to buy her a gift. By the end he gives up his attempts to purchase a gift and has a sort of epiphany; however it is not a positive one.

The paralysis in the story centers on this youthful defeat and eludes that life itself will be much the same. The three stories prepare the reader for the paralysis in “Eveline” because in the stories preceding the paralysis is the same, but slightly different every time. In “Two Sisters” the narrator is paralyzed from the beginning and thinks heavily on the work itself and how destructive it can be. The narrator foreshadows the theme that continues through the whole novel.

In “An Encounter” the narrator is paralyzed in the field by the old man, but he manages to overcome it after a while and leaves. In “Araby” the narrator breaks free from paralysis when he has his romanticized feelings for his friend’s sister, but at the end is defeated and thrown back into paralysis after failing to get her a gift. In “Eveline” the paralysis is so evident that the narrator is described as clinging to the cold iron bars. The theme of paralysis is most evident in this story than it is through the entire novel, however the stories placed before “Eveline” were needed to help the reader further understand paralysis and how it affects people constantly every day.

Short Response

5.In “Two Gallants” Lenehan receives a great deal of depth even though on the surface he could be seen as a simple con man. Lenehan’s partner, Corely, is fairly one dimensional and is a great contrast from Lenehan. Corley seems content with the life that he lives in that he is described as a “leech”; however Lenehan is shown in a much different light in that he seems distant when walking with Corely at the beginning of the story, lost in his thoughts. Later when Lenehan is walking on his own he thinks of how he wants to settle down and get a steady job with steady pay and have a good home life possibly with a family.

The wishes that he has for a better life shows his depth while his partner has none, but once Lenehan sees the gold chain Corely conned a maid into stealing it seems unlikely Lenehan will change. 2.In “An Encounter” the narrator and Mahoney skip school in search of adventure, however by the end of the story their relationship has greatly changed. Although the narrator never says anything to Mahoney many of his private thoughts are of him thinking why is Mahoney talking to the old man. He was confused on why Mahoney was egging on the old man by having a conversation while the narrator sat silently.

The narrator by the end of the story thinks of Mahoney as dumb for being unable to see the oddness of the situation with the old man as he was able to. 4.In “Eveline” she is undecided on the notion of leaving with her love, Frank, and abandoning her family, particularly her father. The quote “It was hard work – a hard life – but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life” plays on the fact that numerous time in the story she changes her mind on whether or not to leave.

Certain things make her want to leave such as thinking about how her mother felt stuck, while other things made her want to stay such as the harp playing reminding her of her mother’s death. She constantly is convincing herself to either go or stay even if the reason that she comes up with goes against how she actually feels. Her logic leaves her saying things like the quote in that even though she feels the want to leave she convinces herself it is just as nice to stay home.

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