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Group Presentation Cherry, Rita, Grace, Sally and Betty 2002/11/20 SUMMARY and STRUCTURE Narrative Point of View 3 rd person point of view (omniscient) Summary I. The first part: in a Christmas party
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Cherry, Rita, Grace, Sally and Betty
Narrative Point of View
3rd person point of view (omniscient)
I.The first part: in a Christmas party
One night around Christmas time, Gabriel Conroy goes with his wife Gretta to the Christmas party held at the home of the Misses Morkan: his aunts, Kate and Julia, and their niece, Mary Jane. A piano plays in a parlor full of dancing couples. Gabriel tells his aunts that on account of the cold, he and Gretta will be staying in a hotel nearby rather than returning home that night.
The group assembles to listen to Mary Jane play a difficult piano piece, and Gabriel’s mind wanders to his mother, who had opposed his marriage and described Gretta as “country cute.” Gabriel remembers how Gretta nursed his mother through her long and ultimately fatal illness.
The group pairs off for dancing. Gabriel finds himself with a young woman named Miss Ivors, who becomes cross with him because he writes reviews for The Daily Express. An Irish Revivalist, she asks sharply if he is a West Briton; then, she seems to be joking. Gabriel is baffled and reflects that he’s never had any trouble with Miss Ivors before.
Old Aunt Julia sings a song, and the crowd assembles for dinner. Gabriel finally takes a break from carving in order to eat, and the table discusses the state of operatic tenors in Ireland. After the pudding, Gabriel gives a long speech on the topic of Irish hospitality and the generosity of times gone by.
II. The second part: Gabriel and Gretta are on their ways to hotel
The hour is late; the party is breaking up. Gabriel and Gretta linger, he tells a story about Patrick Morkan, his grandfather, and his horse Johnny. At last, Gabriel and Gretta leave, walking through the cold to their hotel.
Gabriel is full of joy and happiness about his wife; as he looks at her, he begins to think of scenes from their private life together. They finally find a cab, which takes them to their hotel. Gabriel begins to feel stirrings of desire as he thinks about Gretta; he imagines how he will call her to him when they are alone in their room.
III.The third part: in the hotel room
In the room, Gretta seems tired and somewhat sad. Gabriel questions her, and she at last confides in him that after she heard a song played at the party, it reminded her of the memory that when she’s still a girl living in Connacht, she was in love with a boy named Michael Furey, a seventeen year old singer who died of consumption after waiting for her in the rain as she prepared to leave for a Dublin convent. The song triggered the memory of the young lad for her, and it torments Gabriel with jealousy that she had a love before him and Michael still “lives” in her mind.
Gretta begins to sob, and Gabriel is overcome with humiliation and shame. While he was complacent with his wife and desiring her, Gretta was remembering another man with whom she had truly been in love. Gabriel imagines himself as foolish and clownish person; he tries halfheartedly to comfort Gretta, then lets her hand fall and walks to the window.
Later, Gretta is fast asleep. Gabriel looks at her and thinks about her past romance, feeling what a poor part he himself has actually played in her life. He thinks that her face is no longer the face for which Michael Furey was willing to die. Gabriel thinks of the dead lad and thinks that his two aunts will soon also be dead. In the silence of the room, he begins to go over the events of the evening, and so, he begins to see the night for what it was: “From his aunt’s supper, from his own foolish speech, from the wine and dancing, the merry-making….” The relationship between sex and death becomes quite clear.
Tears fill his eyes; he feels as though the solid world is evaporating around him, and he is conscious of the flickering forms of the dead. Gabriel looks out the window and sees snow falling softly in the night. He thinks about the snow falling all over Ireland, piling up over the cemetery where Michael Furey lays buried. He climbs into bed, and his soul swoons as he hears the snow falling faintly throughout the universe, falling upon all the living and the dead
Compare with “the Lost Generation” in American Literature in its narrative techniques, tone and style:
For example: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Babylon Revisited and Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Gabriel Conroy: The main character in "The Dead" and the most important character in Dubliners.
egotist : the coin he gives to Lily
dislike of the piano sound played by Mary Jane
emptiness : his relationship with Gretta and others
Gabriel and James Joyce share some characteristics, and Joyce may well be presenting us with a picture of what he and his life would have been like had he remained in Dublin.
Minor Characters :
Gretta:Gabriel’s wife. As noted earlier, Joyce gives Gretta some of the characteristics of his wife Nora, particularly Nora's origins in the West of Ireland as well as her strength and determination.
Michael Fury:He is the dead love of Gretta. His role is significant in that his love for Gretta can never be matched by Gabriel, Gretta's husband. Before learning about Michael, Gabriel describes his marriage to Gretta as "years of...dull existence together." However, learning about Michael only emphasizes part of Gretta that is dead. Gabriel can never relive what she had with Michael.
Bartell D'Arcy:The tenor. He played the song called "The Lass of Aughrim". This song was significant in that it reminded Gretta of her relationship with Michael. Without this song, the memories that Gretta has of Michael would not have been rekindled.
Molly Ivors:Party guest. Miss Ivors is an earnest nationalist. She challenges Gabriel's Irish identity and heritage. She accuses him of being a "West Britton" rather than Irish. The accusation she makes upsets Gabriel greatly, although he knows it's the truth. This loss of pride and denial of his own heritage is just another aspect of Gabriel that is dead.
Kate and Julia Morkan:Hosts of the Annual Morkan dance. Aunts of Gabriel. They are important because they are symbolic of a dead generation. They hold on to their old traditions of the annual dance, appreciation of music and the arts. However, they have the tradition and culture that Gabriel lacks and definitely never appreciates. Gabriel needs to revive this precious part in his heart so that he will know what identity he has and who he is.
Johnny the Horse ismentioned in a story told mockingly by Gabriel in which Johnny the Horse, lonely and confused, circles a statue of King Billy. The story is significant because by circling the statue, Johnny is showing recognition and attachment to the past. Gabriel, however, cannot understand it because this part of him is dead.
Mary Jane:Niece of Kate and Julia Morkan. She comments on the monks and the coffins by saying, “The coffin is to remind them of their last end.” This statement is rather gloomy, yet helps to set a dark tone for the party.
Ellen Morgan:She is the dead mother of Gabriel. Her picture still hangs in the Morgan's home as a reminder or another presence of death
Freddy Malins:Party guest. He is a drunkard. His presence is a reminder of all that is lost and confused. In his state, he is like a walking dead.
Parkinson:He is a dead tenor that Miss Kate brings up in conversation. He is another mentioning of a dead character. He is part of the old generation of singers that are lost with time. The idea of the old generation being forgotten and dead is being reinforced.
ØThe Title: “The Dead”
ØSetting: Around Christmas time
Place: Usher’s Island.
Each performance reveals the performers’ inner emotions and feelings.
The performance itself is as a contrast to the state of the performer.
Arrayed for the bridal, in beauty behold her
A white wreath entwineth a forehead more fair
I envy the zeohyrs that softly enfold her
And play with the locks of her beautiful hair
May life to her prove full of sunshine and love
full of love yes! yes! yes!
Who would not love her
Sweet star of the morning! Shining so bright!
Earth9s circle adorning, fair creature of light
fair creature of light
Tindall, William. A Reader’s Guide to James Joyce. The Noonday
Press. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1959.
Ryf, Robert S. A New Approach to Joyce. Berkeley and Los Angeles:
University of California Press, 1966.