Growing Up in Dublin in The Dubliners
Q) What picture do you think that Joyce gives of growing up in Dublinin
the era when the book was written?
A) While Joyce was growing up in Ireland he became disenchanted with
his nation and the oppressive influence the Catholic Church had over
the country. Joyce's intention when writing the book was to write a
moral history of his country and he chose Dublin as it seemed to him
to be the "centre of the paralysis" that seized it.
The stories at the beginning of Dubliners are about youth and as the
story progresses they concern older people and the last book is called
The Dead. To answer this question I am going to use three of the short
stories from Dubliners; An Encounter, Araby and Eveline. I have chosen
these three stories as they are near the start of the book and thus
detail young people's lives in Dublin, a feature of the book I can, as
a teenager, identify with.
This is the first of these stories and there are several elements
within that hint at the dull lifestyle experienced by the young boy
that the story focuses upon.
Near the start of the book it talks about how one boy's parents "went
to 8 o'clock Mass every morning", leaving the boy behind on his own.
This shows the dominant effect that religion had upon Irish family
life at that time and how it took up much of peoples' time, in this
case meaning that the family was often separated. Another example of
how predominant religion was at that time is when the story refers to
Leo Dillon's brother who had a vocation (calling) as a young teenage
boy to be a Priest even though it went against his adventurous nature
and came as a shock to those who knew him.
Their teacher, who is a Priest, also seems to suppress the dream which
all the boys share and when he finds Leo Dillon's book he calls it
"rubbish". This can be compared to how religion crushed the wild
dreams of Leo Dillon's older brother. The Priest expresses surprise at
finding this book because they are not ordinary "national school" boys
but they study at a religious school run by Priests. This shows more
was expected of boys with this education and shows the desire shown by
Priests and other adults to shield children from anything they
considered to be pagan or unchristian.
You can also see from the stories that the boy and perhaps his friends
want a real adventure not "mimic" adventures or pretend stories. This
shows that merely imagination wasn't enough for the boy and this can
perhaps explain why so many young people left Ireland; searching for
real adventures in other countries rather than trying to pretend their
lives were exciting.
You can see symbolism in the story when the boy "hides his books in
the long grass". It seems like he is rejecting his education by
embarking on this adventure...