The Dead

Here are some notes on 'The Dead' from James Joyce's 'Dubliners'

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  • Created by: eden
  • Created on: 06-06-11 10:27


  • Routine
  • Life vs. Death
  • Nationalism
  • Social Class
  • Religion


(red=key themes)

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Brief Summary

  • Gabriel Conroy (protagonist) attends a dinner part held by his aunts to celebrate Epiphany (religious festival)
  • He coverses with the caretaker's daughter, Lily and the nationalist Mrs Ivors - both these conversations end bady.
  • He gives a speech (trying to heighten his appearence)
  • Upon leaving, Gabriel's wife, Gretta, becomes fixated on a song being sung and continues this strange behaviour 'till they get back to the hotel.
  • In the hotel, Gretta is 'off' with Gabriel and shuns his efforts to comfort her.
  • She tells him that the song had reminded her of a previous lover who once sung that song to her. She explains how he died after waiting outside her window in the cold.
  • Gabriel had no idea about this and concludes that he doesn't really know his wife at all.
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Key Quotes - explainations

"...the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the decent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."

This is a metaphor for iscolation - not being able to know othersm, even people closest to us (Gretta). It lies "thickly drifted" upon all objects acting as a barrier and isolating.

The snow also functions as a symbol for the death - it comes to everyone.

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  • Cataphoric references - 'She did not answer', 'She Broke loose': Repetition of 'she' (refering tho Gretta) suggests lack of respect for women at that time and also the distance between the couple.
  • Free indirect discourse - 'Why did she seem so distracted? - shows Gabriels streams of thoughts. Creates potential for the audience to feel sympathetic for him.
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