James Joyce "The Dead" Essay

5257 words - 21 pages

Thesis: In James Joyce's pluralistic short story, "The Dead", Gabriel Conroy is dragged westward by the same nets as Stephen Deadalus (those of family, religion and politics), and at the end of the story he is not reborn but rather accepts the transition to the world of shadows.Joyce thought the present as the only legitimate frame of mind. The stream of consciousness writing style is the vehicle he invented to convey the importance of the present. He believed that people were who they were as a result of the experiences that they had been through in their life. Therefore the personality and view point of any one person is the sum of their experiences. The small epiphanic moments that take place in Dubliners are examples of these "defining moments" or experiences where some realization comes to light and the truth is boldly apparent. The scene at the end of "Araby" is a good example. "Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity: and my eyes burned with anguish and anger." (27). The boy has an insight into himself which is seemingly spontaneous but in it self is the result of the damned up waters of experiences gaining enough strength to cause a break through and change the landscape of the boy's intellect. This approach to the formation of personal identity lends itself to a pluralistic approach towards Joyce's writings. Just like there are thoughts that competed for attention and primacy in the boys head, there are themes and ideas that compete for attention in Joyce's short stories and novels. One person may see one of them and someone else point out another and they could both be right because Joyce intentionally wrote both these things into the text. There are so many possibilities of interpretation that can be reasonably supported that one can only conclude that Joyce intentionally included all of them. He simply placed them all in text and then left it to the reader to make a judgment, knowing that each reader would bring his or her own collection of experiences into the reading. Different people will see different things in his works and especially in "The Dead", which is an especially multi-dimensional story, and each one of their opinions, as long as it is well supported and feasible, is legitimate. The reading that I offer here will be well founded on and supported by the text and relevant scholars but it is a result of my own experience (maybe inexperience is more like it) and I make no apologies for that. Neither did Joyce."The Dead" is only a small part of the larger construction that is Joyce's Dubliners and it would be a mistake to take it out of the context of the rest of the collection. In Dubliners Joyce's goal was to "write a chapter in the moral history of my country" and the 14 + 1 stories that he wrote all revolve around the word "paralysis" which characterizes the morality and culture of his Ireland. It is the obsession of the boy in the first story, "The Sisters", and in the...

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