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The Sisters

The story is about the relationships between Father Flynn and his young friend. These relationships are shown against the background of their relatives’ attitude to the situation.

In fact, these relationships are treated to be unhealthy, but it is actually a personal business of both characters. While reading the dialogue between two about a religious topic we see that father Flynn’s attitude toward the boy was not malevolent.

But on the other hand sisters and others are against these relationships. Old Cotter being a friend of the family believes that such kind of friendship is impossible. He is convinced that children must have friends only among other children.

The fact is that the author points out that father Flynn was a mentor of the child, and everybody around the boy disproved of the friendship and had no influence upon the boy, especially in connection with his spiritual education and growth.

There is a conflict between the boy and the people that surround him. The conflict lies in understanding of death. Grown-ups are used to death, and they treat it as a usual event, but for the boy it’s something that goes beyond the scope of his everyday life. He is shocked and can’t believe that Father Flynn died.

But at the same time the boy is under the circumstances of social stereotypes. He has to be indifferent and hide his emotions. And this is actually a torture for him, because it’s a well-known fact that children should express their emotions, especially negative, in order not to get some psychological trauma.

Father Flynn has been teaching his young friend gradually. But the elder friend’s death made the boy grow up harshly.

(by Seagull & 8davids8)

A Mother

The author tells us an episode from the life of a not so rich family. Mrs. Kearney is a woman who has always wanted to be rich and respected but her life turned to be so that she married a not so rich guy and became a mother of a girl. Now she is sure that her dreams might come true. The only thing that has changed is that now not she but her daughter will become rich but with her help. Ms. Kathleen is a good-looking girl, she’s got a nice education, she can play the piano that is why she may be quite good for a high society.

Mr. Holohan works for an Irish cultural society and he has been arranging a series of concerts. Kathleen takes part in one of the concerts as well. She is a good player and her nature is very good that is why people like her. But he told her that he can’t pay her all the money at ones. The mother disagrees with such a decision and she threatens Mr. Holohan that in case her daughter does not get all the money at once, she will just leave. Mr. Holohan agrees to give her half of the sum right now and the rest during the interval. But during the interval he explains that he can’t pay and they should wait for some time.  But this request does not suit the mother. She says that her daughter is too good to participate in such a concert and they just leave.

The story reveals many vices. But the main thing the author calls our attention to is the greediness of the woman. She understands that her daughter is like her- she cant’s achieve anything without help– that is why she decides that being so exacting to people she will somehow show her status, which she does not have at all. But behaving so she ruins not only her life but also the life of her daughter.

(by Luck)


The story is about a boy’s first love and first serious frustration. The narrator expresses his inner torments of unutterable affection towards his friend’s sister. We don’t know the name of the narrator, the name of the girl was not mentioned either – just Mangan’s sister. The boy sees her every day and her appearance reminds him of something exotic, inexperienced because of her dark complexion. One day she at last has enough courage to speak to him: the girl talks about Araby – an eastern bazaar – and says she would love to go but has no possibility. The boy promises to buy a gift for her. So he longs for the day of Araby to come. The boring routine of school life tortures him. He undergoes a period of fruitful reflection on his present life: "I could not call my wandering thoughts together. I had hardly any patience with the serious work of life which, now that it stood between me and my desire, seemed to me child’s play, ugly monotonous child’s play.”

On the day of the bazaar the boy is extremely restless especially while waiting for his uncle to return – he cannot go out without his permission. In the end he is released from his prison. But it’s already 9 o’clock and when the narrator arrives at Araby, the place is in darkness and many stalls have already been closed.

The object of the story breaks up into two thematic branches. Actually it has a double-layer structure. On one hand it is a story of painful affect taking place within the soul of a young guy – the sole base for which is his unanswered love. On the other hand it is a thorough analysis of the nation’s mentality. The Irish are depicted as a people doomed for infinite disappointment. What might have been a story of happy, youthful love becomes a tragic story of defeat. Much like the disturbing, unfulfilling adventure in "An Encounter,” the narrator’s failure at the bazaar suggests that fulfillment and contentedness remain foreign to Dubliners, even in the most unusual events of the city like an annual bazaar. The tedious events that delay the narrator’s trip indicate that no room exists for love in the daily lives of Dubliners.

The characterization of the environment is realized through personification. "An uninhabited house of two storeys stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbours in a square ground. The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces.” They symbolize the unhurried flow of monotonous life of the town. The life itself is viewed as a unique and inexplicable phenomenon which hides within the sullen building blind to happiness that might reside inside them.

The main conflict is in a way immaterial as it happens between the pure aspiring of youth and the solemn disillusionment of maturity. The boy’s sudden awareness that his dreams of love have blinded him brings him to understanding of the dark reality of life. This realization marks a passage from a time of childhood dreams and bright fantasy to one of greater maturity, a time when his life reflects its true colors. However, this conflict turns upside down in the thoughts of the protagonist. The narrator perceives the reality of his childish occupations obscure and purposeless while the world of adult love is reflected in his mind like a kaleidoscope of important actions and iridescent feelings. The outcome of the conflict finds its realization in the sense of frustration and being stunned by simplicity and ugliness of life.

(by MissJane)

A Mother

The story begins with a brief description of Mr. Holohan, who works for an Irish cultural society and has been arranging a series of concerts. We are then introduced to Mrs. Kearney, who was very accomplished at a young age but found that the young men of her class were intimidated by her, which prompted her to marry the working class Mr. Kearney "out of spite.” Her daughter Kathleen goes to good schools and learns to play the piano. Mrs. Kearney decides to use the Irish Revival as a means of improving the family’s social position. She is successful enough that Kathleen gets the attention of Holohan, who hires the girl as an accompanist at four vocal concerts put on by his society. Holohan and Mrs. Kearney collaborate well on the planning of the performances. The first concert is sparsely attended. The second one has more patrons, but Mrs. Kearney is bothered by the behaviour of the audience and the casual attitude of the society’s secretary, Mr. Fitzpatrick. The third concert is cancelled. Mrs. Kearney is concerned that her daughter will not be paid the full contracted price but is unable to get a straight answer on the matter from Holohan or Fitzpatrick. She brings her husband to the final concert, anticipating a confrontation. On the night of the concert, Mrs. Kearney is unable to get a proper answer on her request for full payment and insists her daughter will not play until paid. The dispute holds up the beginning of the performance until Fitzpatrick pays Mrs. Kearney half the agreed amount, promising the rest at the interval. Although the first half of the concert is successful, the description of the performers, either too immature or past their prime, is not flattering. At the interval, Mrs. Kearney is told the rest of the money will be paid in three days. An indignant Mrs. Kearney refuses to let her daughter play. Another accompanist is found, and Mrs. Kearney and her family, roundly condemned by all at this point, leave. The story presents both the mother’s greed and choler and the inexperience and condescension of the society’s members.
The story is about a mother with good motives who made harm to her daughter. It difficult to judge who was guiltier in what happened. The administration can be called dishonourable, but at the same time they expected higher profit but their project failed. Of course, they made a contract and they should be responsible for it, but who knows, may be they were going to count money after the concert and share it among the participants. The behavior of the mother can also be explained. She wants to show that no one has the right to treat her daughter in such a manner, but in fact she goes too far. We do not know how kathleen’s life develops after such a scandal, but we see that like other characters in Dubliners, the mother will continue to live according to her own routine.
Poverty is a theme here, and we see in this case how poverty and a certain stubborn pride make for an unfortunate combination. Mrs. Kearney helps with the planning, and buys expensive clothes for her daughter: it is disappointed expectation that drives her to demand stubbornly the promised eight guineas. Yet in her wish to ensure that her daughter's rights are respected, she destroys her daughter's chances at future employment in Dublin. Mr. O'Madden Burke says confidently that Kathleen will never play in Dublin again. That’s why the main conflicts are between material resources and the desire to seem richer, between Mother’s positive motives and their negative results, between affected culture level and suburbian realia.

(By Ayayulia)

"The Boarding House”

After a difficult marriage with a drunken husband that ends in separation, Mrs. Mooney opens a boarding house. She has two children – Jack and Polly who live with her in the house. A lot of city clerks occasionally stay in the boarding house. Polly, who used to work in an office, now stays at home at her mother’s request, to amuse the lodgers and help with the cleaning. Surrounded by so many young men, Polly inevitably develops a relationship with one of them, Mr. Doran. Mrs. Mooney knows about the relationship, but instead of sending Polly back to work in the city, she watches the young couple. But as far as polly's behaviour has changed radically, Mrs.Moony finally decides to speak to Mr. Doran.
Mrs. Mooney intends to defend her daughter’s honor and convince Mr. Doran to marry Polly. Mrs. Mooney figures out that Mr. Doran will choose the option that least harms his career.
Meanwhile, Mr. Doran is concerned about his concersation with Mrs. Mooney. He recollects the difficult confession to his priest that he made on Saturday evening, in which he was harshly reproved for his romantic affair. He knows he can either marry Polly or run away, the latter being an option that would ruin his reputation. Mr. Doran complains of Polly’s uneducated family, her ill manners, and her poor grammar, and wonders how he can remain free and unmarried. at this moment Polly enters the room and threatens to end her life out of unhappiness. In her presence, Mr. Doran begins to remember how he was encharmed by Polly’s beauty and kindness, but he is still in doubt.
Mr. Doran comforts Polly and departs for the meeting, leaving her to wait in the room. She rests on the bed crying for a while dreaming of her possible future with Mr. Doran. Finally, Mrs. Mooney interrupts her thoughts. She tells Polly that Mr. Doran wants to speak to her. At this very moment Polly "remembered what she had been waiting for".
The story "the boarding house" is the story about marriage, about its social and personal aspects. Marriage offers promise and profit on the one hand, and entrapment and loss on the other. What begins as a simple affair becomes a tactical game of obligation and reparation.
In the story we come across two couples. The first being divorced and the second having obstacles in getting married. But in both cases the problems that arise are mostly caused by outer circumstances and social background. For example, Mrs.Mooney having divorced her husband, gave him neither money, nor food, nor house-room. She took what had remained of their money and managed to start her own business and profit from that. Besides, Mrs.Mooney wants her daughter to get married but at the same time she is proud of her ability to get rid of a dependent daughter so easily.
So, the author tries to prove that marriage is not the union of two loving hearts, but a strategy that is aimed at reaching a stable social position and material well-being. Marriage is more about social standards, public perception, and formal sanctions than about mere feelings.

(by Asya and Rina)

A Painful Case

 The title of the short story "A Painful Case” foreshadows the cause of the main character's inner conflict.  
"A Painful Case” is a situational short story focusing on the main character’s inner state. Mr. Duffy’s inner conflict is caused by his doubts related to his beloved Mrs. Sinico’s death. There is a clash of two strong impulses within the main character: his wish to be with his beloved woman and his inability to take a decisive action in order for their relationship to get closer. Mrs. Sinico’s death raises doubts whether the main character was right choosing to leave his beloved woman or not. Her death plays a really significant role in the short story as it makes Mr. Duffy understand how lonely he is in this world. "No one wanted him; he was outcast from life's feast".
 One of the main themes of the story is the theme of spiritual loneliness and isolation. The main character prefers a stable but customary way of living and the author emphasizes the routine character of his existence using a plethora of words possessing the seme of loneliness and a negative connotation at the same time, for example: 

an old sombre house

the shallow river

the deserted house

Sometimes the author emphasises the effect he wants to gain using metaphorical comparison.

an overripe apple which might have been left there and forgotten.

The idea of the narration is revealed at the very end of the story. Therefore, J. Joyce focuses mainly on lexical devices to draw reader's attention to the problem raised and to foreground the main thoughts. The lexical device he resorts to is hence repetition which enables the author to shift the logical emphasis of the sentence.

What an end! The whole narrative of her death revolted him and it revolted him to think that

he had ever spoken to her of what he held sacred. […] Just God, what an end!

Now that she was gone he understood how lonely her life must have been, sitting night after night alone in that room. His life would be lonely too until he, too, died, ceased to exist, became a memory--if anyone remembered him.

In a few words, the author manages to create the vivid image of a deserted man living in his own shell, unable to have prospering relations with other people, a man who is doomed to solitude.

The story "A painful case” is from the collection of short stories called "Dubliners” whose aim is to depict the place and its inhabitants revealing the drawbacks of this preserved society. James Joyce chooses Dublin as a scene for an action because he realizes Dublin to be "the center of par'alysis”. Mr. Duffy, as well as other Joyce's characters is paralyzed mentally and is unable to take a decisive action. It's a well-known fact that all Joyce's stories possess certain epiphany. Like other characters in Dubliners who experience epiphanies, Mr. Duffy is not inspired to begin a new phase in his life, but instead he bitterly accepts his loneliness.

Just like Eviline and Polly Mooney Mr. Duffy surrenders to his destiny making his existence a manifestation of the very idea of paralysis and stagnation.

The main character of the story "a painful case” is Mr.Duffy, a man who has got used to planning and organising his life, whose existence remains unchangeable for years and who has actually no desire to break this order. He keeps a tidy house, eats at the same restaurants, and makes the same daily routine. But everything changes radically when he meets Mrs. Sinico. But Mrs. Sinico is married and has a grown-up daughter. Her husband, a captain of a ship, is constantly away from home. Therefore she feels at ease meeting Mr.Duffy. She feels deep affection towards him but Mr.Duffy feels slightly uncomfortable with the nature of their relationship. So, one day when she dared to express her feelings he breaks up with her. Four years have passed. Mr.Duffy is reading a newspaper article entitled "A painful case”. It is about Mrs. Sinico's death. It turns out that she was found dead on a railway and nobody is to blame. According to the witnesses, she fell under the train because she had a heart attack. Still Mr.Duffy is angry with her because he suspects that it could have been a suicide. But then his anger begins to subside, and by the time he leaves to walk home, he feels deep remorse, mainly for ending the relationship and losing the potential for companionship it offered. Upon seeing a pair of lovers in the park by his home, Mr. Duffy realizes that he gave up the only love he’d experienced in life. He feels utterly alone. "One human being had seemed to love him and he had denied her life and happiness: he had sentenced her to 'ignominy, a death of shame".

(by Asya and Rina)

First of all "Grace" is a story that deals with alcoholism, but the real focus of the story is religion. By making Mr. Kernan a convert, the author shows the religious life in Dublin. Dubliners try to show that they are religious. When the author describes the church we see that it is hard to find a sitting place there, because it is full. Indeed, they do not know what religion is, they do not care what exactly the names are and where some religious events take place. They even joke about it, though such a theme doesn’t accept humor.
The next conflict concerns the way people leave and the way they try to look like. Mr. Powers, when seeing the children, "is surprised at their manners and at their accents". Apparently, Mr. Kernan's children speak with the accent of less educated, poorer classes. But at the same time Mr’Kernans always wears a new suit, he is clean and tidy.
Dublin is a place that is a city which did preserve its forms through the centuries. A language in Dubliners is full of clichés (we are pleased, I'm very much obliged to you), expressions (we'll make him turn over a new leaf. I leave it all in your hands) that had been respoken for centuries. When gentlemen speak with each other their speech is so polite that sometimes the language sounds artificial. It's all right, constable. I'll see him home. This gentlemen fell down in the lavatory. 
Themes of the story.
The main theme is the artificiality of people. The way people look and the way they live are absolutely different things. They try to show themselves successful, strong and healthy, they send money on their clothes and restaurants but their children are getting very poor education.
The next theme of the story is religion. The author shows how religious Dubliners are and how at the same time uneducated they are in it.
The next theme is the theme of matrimony. When Mrs. Kernan got married, she immediately understood that she didn’t love her husband, but she continued live with him, though not happy. And now when he has become drunkard she wants him to change his behavior, but she does nothing for it.
Here the theme of responsibility appears. As the wife she had to struggle, but she left her husband in his friends’ hands. She just didn’t care about him. The same happened to the children. No one think about their bringing up.
Personal view.
I have read 3 stories from the collection Dublners, but there is only one I really like. It is A mother. But the task is to speak about Grace. While reading the story I was waiting for something to happen, but in vain. The story hasn’t many events, passions and emotional experiences and it really lacks them. But at the same time I can not say that it is boring, as a reader I was involved in the plot, but the author stops the narration suddenly. He leaves the reader with his hopes and guesses, it is the reader who finishes the story in his mind, makes parallels and draws conclusion. That’s why I feel that the end is given too short and empty.
(By Ayayulia)


The story investigates the sense of duty lying deep within the consciousness of the main character, Eveline. This moral obligation clashes with the profound and underlying desire to be free of any restrictions and be happy away from the routine and boredom of miserable existence in her homeland. The conflict between these primeval senses finds a hardly visible outlet – that is, indecisiveness of the main heroine. She is tortured by this inner confrontation of the two thoughts – first, that she has no right to leave the family to the mercy of fate, and second, that she deserves to have a normal life, to be married and lead a prosperous life abroad. Alongside the inner moral conflict of the girl, the reader is exposed to several social conflicts the author touches in the story. Primarily, the story explores the tension existing in a family which is left without the mother and where the elder children accept all the responsibilities of the adults being deprived of the right to have a happy childhood. Unbearable pressure from the father (usually a drunkard and a squanderer) in many cases ruins the peaceful atmosphere that should have been present in a family.

The feeling of hopelessness and constricting pain penetrates the passages creating an insufferable atmosphere. One of the first sentences in the story is: "She was tired.” Certain objects described in the story symbolize the decay and uselessness of the life that Eveline had in her home city: yellowing photograph, broken harmonium, odour of dusty cretonne, the cinder path. The attributes create utterly unpleasant images. The author picks up certain grammatical means to render the girl’s regret at her unclouded past. First of all, the repetition of ‘used to’ serves this purpose. "One time there used to be a field there in which they used to play every evening with other people's children. …The children of the avenue used to play together in that field. …Her father used often to hunt them in out of the field. …Keogh used to keep nix and call out when he saw her father coming.” Joyce is certainly a master of creating sensual details. Describing the hardships of the family and the unfair violent behaviour of the father, the author provides a powerful image of Eveline’s endeavours to maintain the family. "Then she had to rush out as quickly as she could and do her marketing, holding her black leather purse tightly in her hand as she elbowed her way through the crowds and returning home late under her load of provisions.”  

Thematic contour of the story borders on the idea that happiness is out of reach for those who load themselves with responsibility. The theme of loneliness should be considered central in this short story. Eveline has no one to whom she might tell about the grief that nibbles her soul. Even her fiancée is no spiritual companion for her. Secondly, the theme of parental unconcern unfolds within the description of Eveline’s family and the danger of drunken stupor of her father. The author does not select any special vocabulary to describe the father’s behaviour, simply saying that "he was usually fairly bad on Saturday night.” Thus the reader is left with a perception that alcohol addiction was no rare or extremely disturbing thing in the life of Dubliners. We understand it more clearly when we read that Eveline "did not find it a wholly undesirable life”.

Other themes include wastefulness of limited resources and insincerity of love.

"Eveline” should be considered the most exquisite story within the collection. It reminds in some way of "The Ice Palace” by Fitzgerald. Both stories focus on the fear of the unknown future. Eveline’s story illustrates the pitfalls of holding onto the past when facing the future. And I find the story quite close to my own thoughts in certain moments of life. When you’re bound to a particular way of life, it’s almost impossible to alter your pattern of thinking. You always fear that something might go wrong and it’s better not to take any resolute steps. The proverb that comes to mind is half a loaf is better than no bread. Thus the story is very realistic for me and I’m not in the least surprised with the end. In most cases things remain undone and dreams are not fulfilled.

 (by MissJane)


The story I am going to analyze is called "Clay”. The main character here is Maria. She is a spinster and some years ago she nursed a small boy in a rich family. Now it is Halloween Eve. And she is going to visit this family again. On her way she stops to buy some cakes for the party. At the bakery she is somehow teased by the shop assistant who asks whether she wishes to buy a wedding cake. That makes Maria feels very embarrassed. On a train she has to chat with an old drunk man and finally she finds out that her cake is stolen. That makes her feel very much confused and ashamed because she understands she’ll have to visit the family without any present. But she is welcomed warmly at the house of Joe’s family. She pretends she has something for them but finally she says that she probably "lost” the cake somewhere and pretends to be upset. In some time the family starts playing some traditional Halloween Eve games. Some objects are placed inside cookies, cakes, pots and it is supposed that they have some significant meaning. One of the objects in the game is a ring that stands for marriage but Maria fails to find it. Finally the object she chooses is clay which stands for death. That makes Maria very scared but she is allowed to choose again and now it is a prayer book which indicates spiritual life. After drinking some wine Maria sings a song that touches everyone. And the story ends with the description of how Joe has been "very much moved” by the song.

The main conflicts of the story are connected with Maria. Being a spinster and living alone she is afraid of people, she is afraid of any changes in her life. The author gives us some description of her appearance. She is not pretty at all, her nose is very big, her face is long, and that is why men do not regard her as a woman at all. Usually the maximum attention she gets turns out to be taunting and teasing. But she is very naïve to understand anything of it. Her life does not have any worthiness. And it is very symbolic that the author makes her choose nothing but clay. The object which stands for death. That makes Maria feel very scared but she is given another chance. And it has another symbolic meaning. At first the author showed her that her life is nothing but death and now he gives her one more opportunity to choose: life or death. And she gets a prayer book.  It shows that her life is devoted to God, to the spiritual world. And that is actually the answer why she is so calm and kind and it seems that she does not even fit into everyday life at all.

(by Luck)

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