Keywords in Dubliners

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Keyword-analysis of the novel Dubliners by James Joyce.

The sisters:

“…discovering in myself a sensation of freedom as if I had been freed from something by his death.” (p 4)

The narrator feels relieved because being the father’s apprentice was a cross too heavy to bear. Months before the father’s death the narrator fumbled and crushed the Chalice; that is also a symbolism indicating that the narrator found priesthood to be something that was not meant for him.

“Persia” (p 6)
According to the notes Persia was during the 19:th century associated with mystery, which will explain why Joyce chose Persia as a symbolism: The novel is essentially about how one deals with the first encounter with death. The narrator is haunted by images of death the night he receives the news that his friend his dead. But he is to young to deal with the entire concept of death and experiences it to be a mystery; something to large, to horrifying to deal with – a mystery.


“Everything changes” (p 29)

Eveline and her brothers have left childhood and entered adolescence, their mother is dead, Tizzie Dunn is dead, and the waters had gone back to England. And now Eveline is set on leaving her home with a man. Everything changes. But fear of change and fear of what will happen if she does not keep her promise to her mother (p 33) seals her fate.

The dead:

“The Dead”

Throughout the story the characters speak about the deceased, someone´s brother, someone´s horse, a famous singer, and the most central “dead figure”: Gretta´s old love Michael. The story is ultimately about how the dead affect us even after they are gone.

“Michael” (p 223)

Michael represents the part of our loved one’s that we never or seldom get to know about. Gabriel would never have guessed that there was someone before him; someone who had a greater impact on his wife than himself. Michael is there to remind us that we never truly get to know another human being.