The One Who Left and Returned

“Gabriel took his seat boldly at the head of the table and, having looked to the edge of the carver, plunged his fork firmly into the goose. He felt quite at ease now for he was an expert carver and liked nothing better than to find himself at the head of a well-laden table”

“Dubliners.” The Project Gutenberg EBook of Dubliners, by James Joyce,

This interaction is significant in that it’s the first time we see Gabriel appear self-assured in this short story. Without being told explicitly, it appears Gabriel moved away from Ireland, and has assimilated more or less to an English lifestyle. He’s well aware of how different he is from his ‘home,’ and consistently struggles to find his footing in interacting with the partygoers. This moment of carving the goose appears to be one aspect of his upbringing that he has been able to retain, it’s a skill that allows Gabriel to touch base with his culture, and in this moment, he isn’t a fish out of water. In a social sense, culture is what brings together and alienates these individuals, and it is most apparent with Gabriel’s experience as the one who left and has returned.