“Shades” – The Dead

“Generous tears filled Gabriel’s eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling.”

Joyce, James, and Jeri Johnson. “The Dead” Dubliners, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2000, pg 421

The questions Joyce presents to the reader about the permanence of the dead on those living are haunting in many ways. Becoming something immaterial or ambiguous in the face of mortality allows one to connect with those who have passed. In doing this, Gabriel has become closer to his wife than ever before, claiming he finally feels true love for her. Whatever he felt before has changed, as has his perspective on those around him; they are all part of the ‘flickering, grey world’ that Joyce teases at the end of his tale.

Culture Irony; Gabriel & Miss Ivors’ Interaction

One interaction I found ironic and significant from “The Dead” regarding the culture was between Gabriel and Miss Ivors when Gabriel awkwardly claims “Well we usually go to France or Belgium or perhaps Germany” (Joyce 234) to which Miss Ivors asks “And why do you go to France and Belgium…instead of visiting your own land?” (Joyce 234). Gabriel then responds that he goes there to keep in touch with languages, which then prompts Miss Ivory to ask again “…haven’t you got your own language to keep touch with..?” (Joyce 234). I found this dialogue ironic because Dubliners was published in June of 1914 and two months later, in August of 1914, Germany invaded Luxembourg and Belgium. It is ironic because James Joyce wrote Miss Ivory to foreshadow something he couldn’t have known, but only merely had an opinion on; an opinion on culture appropriation or invasion perhaps. The country Gabriel likes to go for a cycling tour in, got invaded by another he also usually visits for the tour. 

Culture in the Form of Nationalism

“- And why do you go to France and Belgium, said Miss Ivors, instead of visiting your own land?
– Well, said Gabriel, it’s partly to keep in touch with the languages and partly for a change.
– And haven’t you your own language to keep in touch with–Irish? asked Miss Ivors.
– Well, said Gabriel, if it comes to that, you know, Irish is not my language.”

Joyce, James, and Jeri Johnson. “The Dead” Dubliners, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2000, pg 149.

In the conflict between these two characters, Joyce makes each of their stances very clear: Miss Ivors is a nationalist, loyal to her country, while Gabriel does not feel that connection to his fellow Irishmen and lacks the Irish loyalty that Miss Ivors so proudly displays. Miss Ivors is proud of her culture to a degree in which she berates Gabriel for not feeling the same way, and goes as far as to call him a West Briton, basically a cultural traitor. Culture is an important theme throughout this story, and this argument shows that the function of culture in the form of nationalism reveals the ideals and values of these characters, and is likely a way for Joyce to include some of his own criticisms about Ireland and Irish culture with his uniquely ironic way of writing.

A Little Cloud

“As he sat at his desk in the King’s Inns he thought what changes those eight years had brought.”

James Joyce. Dubliners. Grant Richards 1914, 65.

Little Chandler seems to be reminiscing on how his friend use to be and who he has become today. So much has seemed to change within those eight short years.

Perspective in Dubliners

“My eyes were often full of tears (I could not tell why) and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself out into my bosom.”

Joyce, James. “Araby.” Dubliners, edited by Jeri Johnson, Oxford, 2008, p. 118.

From the narrator’s perspective, her image causes himself to feel the physical overflowing feeling a love. Thus, sharing his perspective on this woman that he observes daily.

Contrast or Similitude ?

“One evening I went into the back drawing-room in which the priest had died. It was a dark rainy evening and there was no sound in the house. Through one of the broken panes I heard the rain impinge upon the earth, the fine incessant needles of water playing in the sodden beds. Some distant lamp of lighted window gleamed below me. I was thankful that I could see so little. All my senses seemed to desire to veil themselves and, feeling that I was about to flip from them, I pressed the palms of my hands together until they trembled, murmuring : ‘O love ! O love !’ many times.”

Joyce James, Dubliners. Grant Richard 1914, 36

I found this passage interesting for contrast it brings to the story. At this point the protagonist just spent the last paragraphs describing his feelings for a girl. So, this passage of him going to this room where a priest died feels very out of place. Especially, since he came to this room because of his feelings and how overwhelmed he felt.
Yet we could somehow find a similarity in the mystical energy that seem to be found in this place and the way this love is portrayed, with this girl being so mysterious in the eyes of the narrator.

Perspective in “Araby”

“Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand. My eyes were often full of tears (I could not tell why) and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself out into my bosom. I thought little of the future. I did not know whether I would ever speak to her or not or, if I spoke to her, how I could tell her of my confused adoration” (Joyce, 35).

James Joyce. Dubliners. Grant Richards 1914.

The narrator expresses his confused feelings for a girl he barely knows. However, the narrator does know that just by how he feels whenever he sees her, he can not help but feel some type of way, perhaps love, towards this girl. We can see how even her name makes his heart stop, and he is confused by these feelings. We can also see how he doesn’t know the future, by this the narrator means he doesn’t know if he will talk to her or if he will ever get a chance to be with her.