JAMES JOYCE QUESTIONS
Assigned: James Joyce. "The Dead" (Norton 2F, 2172-99).
"The Dead" from Dubliners
1. On page 2172, Lily is the first character to be introduced to us. What is her position in the text -- her social class, etc? How important will she be in the rest of the story?
2. On 2173-74, why does Gabriel "color" as if he has made a mistake when Lily becomes upset about the subject of men? What might his reaction reveal about his ability to relate to women and to people of other social classes?
3. On 2174, why is Gabriel anxious about the after-dinner speech he must make? How does he see himself in relation to his hosts, Aunts Kate and Julia? Does the narrative voice offer any enlightenment about Gabriel's thoughts here -- or elsewhere in the story?
4. On 2175, Gretta explains why she is wearing galoshes. What picture of her marriage with Gabriel emerges from the interchange (spoken and unspoken) between Gretta, Gabriel, and Aunts Kate and Julia?
5. On 2176-77, what mistake does Mr. Browne make? How does his conduct hint at the rift that is beginning to open up between the men and the women in Joyce's story?
6. On 2179-80, why is Miss Ivors successful in getting under Gabriel's skin? What things has she implied about him that he finds unpleasant?
7. On 2182-83, what is revealed about Julia's abortive singing career? Is she a good singer? What kept her from going on with her singing? Why is the subject of Julia dropped or diverted so quickly?
8. On 2187, why is Mr. Browne unable to understand what he is told about the Monks' habits? More generally, what contrast does Mr. Browne provide in the story?
9. On 2187-88, Gabriel makes his speech. What themes does he offer his guests, and how sincerely do you suppose his words reflect his real views about Kate and Julia, his own self-image, Irish hospitality, and possibly other things?
10. On 2190-91, what effect does Gabriel's anecdote about Patrick Morkan ("the Old Gentleman") have upon the speech he has just made at the dinner table?
11. On 2192-94, what does the text reveal about Gabriel's understanding of his wife as an individual with thoughts beyond her marriage relations with him? Describe the advancing stages of Gabriel's desire for his wife -- what makes him remember their "secret life together," and what further excites him?
12. From 2195-99, how does Gabriel's long-time misunderstanding of his wife play out? To what extent is Gabriel able to reflect accurately upon his own motivations, desires, and actions? to what extent does he seem sincere or accurate in his reflections upon himself and Gretta?
13. By the story's end, on 2199, we hear that the snow is falling all over Ireland, on both the living and the dead. What symbolic and predictive value does the snowfall have by this point? From 2187 onwards, what effect has the narrative's mention of snow had upon your perception of events and of the characters' thoughts?
Edition: Greenblatt, Stephen et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. E. New York: Norton, 2006. ISBN Package 2 (Vols. DEF) 0-393-92834-9.