Blog Assignment #2: Imagery and Paralysis in Joyce’s Dubliners

For Monday you’ll read three short stories from James Joyce’s Dubliners. The stories portray ordinary people in Dublin, Ireland, during the first decade of the Twentieth Century, in a realistic prose style marked by vivid imagery and a certain musicality. How does Joyce use imagery or sound to explore the relationship between self and society in any one of these stories? Be sure to provide an example from the text.

Of course, feel free to write on anything else you might have observed, too.


July 18, 2008. Uncategorized.


  1. Roni replied:

    In the story “The Sisters”, when the narrator passes by Father Flynn’s house and sees the two windows the first thing he thinks is “paralysis.” This gave me a feeling that even though Father Flynn had taught the narrator so many things, the narrator had a feeling of being powerless against Flynn. This leads me to believe that even though it isn’t stated clearly what type of relationship the narrator and Father Flynn had, the connection between them was more out of respect than love.

    The narrator also says, “I found it strange that neither I nor the day seemed in a mourning mood and I felt even annoyed at discovering in myself a sensation of freedom as if I had been freed from something by his death.” Joyce gives us a feeling the day is shining brightly and the narrator isn’t even sad about Father Flynn’s death. I feel that through Father Flynn’s death, the narrator feels a sense of freedom not only from the obligation he felt toward the reverend but on a bigger scope, a freedom from religion.

  2. simonagoldin replied:

    In “evelyne” Joyce explores the state of the society through the state of a young woman who is about to make a life changing decision. She recalls her childhood and how different thing are now with her mother and borther dead. “Everything changes” (p 27). Not only is everything changing in the life of this young woman, but the social environment of the time is also shifting. Immigration is on the rise, and people are eager to escape the generally impoverished Ireland.

    Eveline’s situation is not unfamiliar, yet the author leaves a lot of information out as if to forward the immense sense of confusion Eveline is experience to the reader. The supplemental reading brings about an important point, that the young woman does not express any feelings of love towards the young sailor, instead, she focuses of the notion of safety and happiness; something she is not quite familiar with in a house full of dust (p 292).

    At the last moment she experiences a panic attack and abandons the plan of escape along with her future husband. “All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. e was drawing her into them: he would drown her (p31).” A decision, which might be looked down upon by many readers, yet unquestionably understood by others. Perhaps Joyce is pointing out the importance of following your heart, even if the society tells you to do otherwise. Immigration might seems like a source of salvation, however, at times the illusions that surround the act become intoxicating. The image of drowning or being engulfed by a powerful source of nature evokes a sense of paralysis and fear, but one cannot stop the powers of nature; one also cannot stop the powers of the human heart.

  3. iloveny77 replied:

    Undoubtedly all Joyce’s stories are filled with images that reflect the frailty of life, the fine line known and unknown and the difficulty of growing older.

    In all stories, lights are meaningful. In “The Sisters,” the story opens with “two candles” which clearly remember to the reader the vulnerability of everyday. As a matter of fact, the flickering and low light dispensed by a candle, are clearly the emblem of something that is vulnerable and subject to die by a simple blow. Candles are also symbolic of churches and cemetery: here they represent devotion to something and someone that it is no longer present or visible to the human eye, but that it is still “alive.”

    As the sherry wineglasses and broken chalice mentioned in “The Sisters,” which are also figurative of the flimsiness of any day, lights and the transition between the outside light and the inside light are fundamental to Joyce. The author uses the “everchanging violet” color of the sky in “Araby” and the “yellowing photograph” in “Eveline” to represent the importance of how light can affect us and the world’s surroundings. The streets and characters’ thoughts of these stories seem to adjust to the lights. Eveline seems more secure inside the comfort of the light inside the home rather than the “black” outside of the port where she is ready to embark.

    Each story seems to portray a reality where the main character is forced to deal with an external world that is often negative and cruel. In “The Sisters” and “Eveline,” for example, the windows through which the characters seems to look through are representative of their willingness “to find a window” within themselves.

  4. ramsaygirl replied:

    In “Araby”, after the narrator has a conversation with Mangan’s sister abotu going to Araby, he is no longer able to concentrate on the normal “kid” things around him waiting for the day of the fair. “I answered a few questions in class. I watched my master’s face pass from amiability to sterness; he hoped that i was not beginning to idle. I could not call my wandering thoughts together. I had hardly any patience with serious work of life which, now that it stood between me and my desire, seemed to me child’s play, ugly nonotonous child’s play.”
    Having watched Mangan’s sister every time she came to the door and then finally having a conversation with her, he now felt grown up and no longer seemed to be able to participate in the day to day things until he was able to get to the fair and bring back something for her. It’s not until he gets to the fair and is unable to bring her back anything, instead of realizing that he does not need a gift to win her affections, he simply gives up. He seems to believe that his late arrival at the bazaar is a sign that his relationship with her is just a wishful thought.

  5. elizadrea replied:

    In the story “Sisters” Joyce used the reoccuring theme of silence to represent the gravity of secrets. “A silence took posession of the little room…”. Although the literal silence spoken of ranges from moments within dialogues to the potential noise that food would make in the main character’s mouth; It was the inferred silence that seemed surprisingly deafening;for it was that which was unspoken (but subtly implied), that was the loudest.

  6. benficajp9 replied:

    In “Araby” we have a young boy coming to terms with his feelings for a girl. There is a sense of secretiveness and isolation in his feelings. He has very little contact with her and obsesses over a brief exchange of words.
    I thought it interesting how the Araby Bazaar was a “Grand Oriental Fete” which brings back ideas of love, and passion. The boy initially has no intention of going to the Araby Bazaar, but goes because the girl can not. She must attend a retreat for her convent.
    Here I think Joyce is creating a discourse about religion and certain suppressive ideas that are preached in the Roman Catholic Church.
    I think lines 73-82 where the boy goes into the dark drawingroom where the priest died, is very visually striking, not only for its dark cathartic nature, but also for its sharp contrast to a kind of religious confession,”I pressed the palms of my hands together until they trembled, murmuring: O love! O love! many times”, which in nature are the samething.

  7. cnudelmann replied:

    In the story Araby, Joyce tells the story of a young man who is infatuated with a woman. The man follows the woman around and watches her hoping to have a chance of speaking with her. When the man finally does he promises to purchase something for her when he goes to the bazaar. In the story the man sees an image of himself which he describes as “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.”

    The man finally realizes that he was concerned so much with the image of himself to this woman he becomes angry with himself. He was doing so much for this woman that he was infatuated with and that caused him anger and pain.

  8. deguitaranna replied:

    Similar to Conrad’s “Youth”, James Joyce seems to evoke the strong awakening of our senses in “The Sisters”. In this short story, the Rev.James Flynn dies at age sixty-five years from paralysis. The whole concept of “Paralysis” makes us wonder about the narrator’s state of mind from the begining of the story, because the narrator thinks of paralysis when the narrator looks out the window. The vivid images come from the narrators memories of the Rev. when he was still alive. For example on page 5-6 .. “Had he not been dead I would have goneinto the little dark room behind the shop to find him sitting in his armchair by the fire, nearly smothered in his greatcoat.”

  9. Joe Falco replied:

    In “Araby” Joyce describes how the young man is daydreaming about the exotic and alluring sound of the the word “Araby”. The young man’s imagination conjure’s images that make his “soul luxuriated” and is drawn to the “Eatern enchantment” and hope of something wonderful to happen to him at the bazzar.

    I felt this was done to illustrate the confining, stagnant and trapped feeling of a everyday person living in Dublin. The young man is starving for any experience to distract or deliver him from the oppressively boring routine of his life and environment.

  10. re: The Auditors » Blog Archive » Not To Be Twistin’ Hay… Auditors Mucking It Up In Ireland replied:

    […] photo, Dublin, from a syllabus for ENG 41.2 Modern British Fiction to 1950 at Brooklyn […]

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