35) often leads to a life of “commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness” (p. In many of the stories, husbands feel “savage and thirsty and revengeful” (p.
88), while wives “after a quarter of a century of married life [have] very few illusions left” (p. Trapped by alcoholism, sexual repression, and poverty, Joyce’s citizens cannot summon Gallaher’s energy to “revolt against the dull inelegance” of the city (p. When characters make an effort to escape their conditions, they often end up in prisons of their own making.
He called Dubliners a “chapter in the moral history of my country.” Despite his confession in a letter that “the odour of ashpits and old weeds and offal hangs round my stories,” these are not the bitter tales of an exiled writer seeking revenge against the city that threatened to stifle his creative talents.
Instead, the irony, the anger, and the heartbreak found in these stories express as much affection as critique.
Kearney in “A Mother.”However, Joyce’s portrait of Dublin is not entirely bleak.
The sympathy he shows for Stephen Dedalus as well as Leopold and Molly Bloom in Ulysses finds its beginnings in Dubliners.
The book was groundbreaking in its form, depicting the growth of an Irish Catholic boy solely through the consciousness of the narrator.
Joyce also published a collection of short stories, Dubliners, that same year, and began work on what many critics consider his crowning achievement, Ulysses.
This kind of dead end is best illustrated by the fact that the book is framed by the death of a priest in the first story, and the death of a childhood sweetheart in the last.
Joyce establishes the thematic significance of paralysis on the very first page: “Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis” (p. From Eveline’s hesitation about running away with her lover to Bob Doran’s entrapment in marriage, Joyce’s characters usually are incapable of taking decisive action to improve their lives.