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Thematic Purpose Behind Snow Essay

1550 words - 7 pages

James Joyce is praised for his distinct stylistic purpose and furthermore for his writings in the art of free direct discourse. Though at times his language may seem muddled and incoherent, Joyce adds a single fixture to his narratives that conveys unity and creates meaning in the otherwise arbitrary dialogue. Within the story “The Dead”, the final and most recognizable piece in the collection Dubliners, the symbol of snow expresses a correlation with the central character and shows the drastic transformation of such a dynamic character in Gabriel Conroy. The symbol of snow serves as the catalyst that unifies mankind through the flawed essence of human nature, and shows progression in the narrow mind of Gabriel. Snow conveys the emission of the otherwise superficial thoughts of Gabriel and furthermore allows for the realization of the imperfections encompassed by mankind. Riquelme’s deconstruction of the text allows for the understanding that the story cannot be read in any specific way, but the variance in meaning, as well as understanding depends solely upon the readers’ perspective. Following a personal deconstruction of the text, it is reasonable to agree with Riquelme’s notions, while correspondingly proposing that the symbol of snow represents the flaws, and strengths of Gabriel, as well as the other characters as it effects all equally.
John Riquelme’s essay For Whom the Snow Taps: Style and Repetition in “The Dead” proposes two possible interpretations of the story. The essay describes the variations of meaning behind the recurring thematic purpose of the story, but even more so, points out the repetition of the symbol of snow. Focusing mainly on the celebrated last passage of the story, Riquelme harps on the transformation of Gabriel as a character, whether that to be seen as a transformation and acceptance of the imperfect world in which he lives, or elaborating upon the connection of the living with the dead. Riquelme describes the reoccurring themes, which “occur in such small compass…that it is difficult to overlook them” (221). The literal meaning behind “The Dead” described by Riquelme is seemingly impossible to be narrowed to one definitive theory due to the lack of transparency in the story. The structure of the story, argued by Riquelme, can be defined in a multitude of ways, and additionally is difficult to comprehend due to the constant change in both the narrator as well as Gabriel’s voice. The story does not allow for one definitive meaning, which permits no one reading of the story as subordinate to another.
In the last scene, Gabriel hears the tapping of the snow on the windowpane. The reading of the story, in correspondence with Riquelme’s claims, allows for Joyce’s meaning of the symbol as well as the story to be based upon the personal interpretation of the reader. Riquelme’s theories depict Gabriel as figuratively living or dead. Specifically, Gabriel has accepted the impending death of his desires, and abandons...

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