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Week 6: Dubliners

Hey, I realize we've been looking at Dubliners for a while now, so I'll give you some options:

1) Look at the last story of Dubliners, "The Dead," and try and look in detail at the theme of past and memory. If you need some direction, the speech that Gabriel gives at the dinner party is full of big ideas to explore.

2) Now might be a good time to write an entry outside of the book. For example, Joyce has said that he's trying to make a portrait of Dublin as he knew it in this book: how does the way he presents the city help to show us the history and culture of the time? How is this similar/different to the way we learn in a history course? Which is more interesting/accurate?

3) As always, any other subject is fair game.


The way that Joyce presents Dublin helps show us the history and culture of the time through the lives or ordinary citizens. This is similar to and different from the way we learn in a history course. It is similar because in both we learn about people’s daily lives, beliefs, and culture. It is also different from a history course because Dubliners is a set of stories about individuals that are meant to describe the group as a whole. In contrast, in a history course we usually learn about cultures and beliefs by focusing on the group as a whole, rather than ordinary citizens’ stories. I think that a history course is more interesting because it focuses on the group as a whole as well as influential people within the group. I believe that a history course and Joyce’s stories are equally accurate because they are both viable ways of describing Dublin’s culture.

Joyce’s portrait of Dublin depicts it as a stagnant if not a deteriorating society. There is little joy in Dublin. Too many people seem to be stuck in a life they do not want to lead. The culture is changing with the coming of a new generation, but this change may not be for the better, as depicted in Ivy Day in the Committee Room and The Dead. There is a lot or resentment towards England and there are tensions between the Protestants and the Catholics.
Joyce’s depiction of Dublin is different from what would be taught in a history course because he does not incorporate dates of big events and the causes and effects. He focuses on the social aspect of everyday people of all social and economic status, instead of just the elite. Both a history course and Joyce are accurate in their depictions, they just have a different emphasis. The history course would probably be more useful when studying history on a global, economic, or political level. The one problem I have with the history of Dublin written by Joyce is that it only give the perspective of one person. If another Dubliner of that time had written on the social aspects of their society, would they have given the same impression the city?

I think it is very interesting how Joyce shows the reader how he views Dublin. At first his message is not very clear, but as I read on in the book I began to realize that each story had a message on how Joyce viewed Dublin at the time. He showed us drunks, no good men, desperate women, and unhappy families. Joyce was clearly trying to show the reader that in Dublin there were many issues that the common citizen faced. There were many problems with alcohol throughout the book as well as many unhappy characters. Most of the characters seemed to be stuck in a rut and had no ambition to get out of it. It almost seemed that Dublin was a city of losers and failures. I believe that Joyce was trying to convey to the reader that Dublin was going through a hard time and the people were suffering. This was a very interesting way to learn the information. Joyce showed the reader the suffering though examples of real people rather than just telling them that Dublin was going through a hard time.

Dubbliner's was a book with several different characters all of which had different issues that they were faced with and often didn't end up resolving. I thought it was interesting that so much of the society in Dublin had a negative outlook on life or was living a life they didn't want to live but seemed as though there was nothing they could do about it either.
As the book went on i began to see a greater connection between the stories which made me enjoy the book more because it wasn't just a bunch of random unrelated depressing stories. Some of the stories were more tightly connected together then other ones. The way they were connected was different because they were stringed together through different themes or moral lessons that each short story had.
At the same time I personally like a book that has one story and follows one set of character(s) because I think it can make a story develop more and can make for of a story line. Where as with this book there were several stories that were connected through the lessons/ morals each one taught.

On the whole, I was quite under whelmed by this book. I thought the style Joyce chose to write in was very ineffective. The citations in the chapters, which lead to more information in the back of the book, were helpful at first to understand the city of Dublin and the references Joyce made. However, as the story continued, I found it obnoxious to have to flip to the end of the book, multiple times for every page. So, I stop looking at the citations and accepted that I might be missing some of the information, although it might have been nice to have more contextual information in the actual stories. Also, I disliked how the book felt disconnected. The stories all seem to reflect a negative attitude towards the city of Dublin, or the people living in it. I found that the stories I really enjoyed, like “The Boarding House” and “A Mother”, ended too abruptly and left me wanting to now more. While stories I was disinterested in, like the last two stories of the book, seemed to drag on endlessly.

This book over all was a bit hard to read. It was hard to piece all of the characters together through out the different chapters. One story that really interested me was Grace. This is all about Joyce taking you to the home of Tom Kernan, the alcoholic. After that, she actually started to persuade him to attend a retreat organized by an evangelist, Father Purdon. I thought that this part of the story was interesting in the sense that Joyce cared enough to get involved in Tom's life and try to rid him of alcoholism. But the thing I did not understand was why Joyce did not think that the church could actually free him of alcoholism, then why did she bring him there in the first place?

After reading Dubliners I have a negative view of how Dublin was during that period of time. Joyce portrays Dublin as a bottom feeding society stricken with alcohol abuse and child abuse. I really didn't like the feelings I had while reading this book. Every story seemed to have a negative outcome. Most stories had one of more characters abusing alcohol.

I commented on the writing style on my last post but I would like to touch on it again. I really don't like novels which are a collection of stories. It makes it very hard for me to comprehend what messages the writer is trying to convey to the reader. I like to be able to link stories together and to "connect the dots" of immportant plot points. The only thing I can connect the dots with in this novel is drinking.
I did like the story, Mother, I thought out of all the stories that stood out because the message it was portraying was clear and the story had flow. Most of the other stories and the book as a whole was bla for me and it was hard for me to pick it up and read it.

Jame Joyce’s method of presenting Dublin through the eyes of its inhabitants is one of the most effective means of imparting the emotions and traditions that only Dublin natives understand. The Dublin Joyce portrays within the pages of his book is a city that no longer exists, a metropolis that remains only within the pages of great Irish writers who sought to tell the tale of their great city. Each individual story is much like an episode of a television series; each has their own characters, plot, and setting. However, when you put all these stories together within the same book, you have a great sense of understanding about what life was like in Dublin. What is key to remember while reading this book is that quite possibly, all these stories could have been taking place at the same moment in time, giving off the feeling that life continues on, maybe not in our world anymore, but still within the pages of The Dubliners. Irish maids continue to flirt with young suitors, Irish boys still try their hardest to get out of school and get into mischief, and old men still gather around the fire and drink whiskey while discussing issues of the day. A history textbook serves only to inform about the basic facts of society, it never discusses the people within it. In this way, not only do we learn about how life was back then, but we also become connected with the inhabitants of the city, in a time that we can never know personally, but imagine it through the words of James Joyce.

I think that it I a pretty interesting idea to learn about a city/culture through a novel or narrative. Through a book, we can make a more personal connection with the day to day lives of people from the city. We understand how important the Catholic Church is in the lives of the Dubliners. We can also see how all levels of society live. How the upper class children can gallivant around the city in Two Gallants or how the working class much struggle for every penny like in A Mother makes the study of the city more unique because we have actual examples of how the denizens live. So, what we learn becomes more of a personal matter than just learning names and dates of people and events that we can never make a bond to. That’s not saying that names and dates are not important in history, but maybe if the subject was taught with more of a personal emphasis, more people would like it.

I thought the style in which Joyce wrote fit the mood that he was trying to evoke about Dublin. Because Joyce was writing about the paralysis of the city, it made sense to include separate stories that would all add to the overall impression of Dublin in their own unique way. If he was trying to write about the paralysis of a character who lived in Dublin, it would have made sense to write one cohesive plotline, but since he was following a city, one plotline about one main character or a group of characters would not have sufficed.
If Joyce just extended one of the stories, “The Dead” for example, we could only have seen the state of Dublin through one person’s eyes. One single story would not have effectively shown the extent to which Dublin had remained unchanged. By understanding the lives of the people and the events that occur in Dublin, the reader is able to make his/her own judgments about how effectively Joyce delivered what he intended to show – the unchanging state of a city.

Whereas history books give factual information about a certain place and time, Joyce painted a portrait of life and living in Dublin. The use of several stories gives a more broad and less specific historical reference of the lives of Dubliners. The purpose of the book was not to portray the stories of different characters and their actions, but cohesively to give a persona to the city itself. A historical reference could have factual stories about particular people, but a novel like The Dubliners uses attitudes and more subjective evidence to describe the place and time. Often time history books are criticized because information is left out for whatever reasons and Joyce seems to give a more complete and accurate portrayal of this time in history.

I know nothing about Dublin, other than it’s in Ireland, but from reading Dubliners I get a really good picture of what it was like in the 1890s. I found the constant description of the surroundings a bit tedious at times (I was constantly flipping to the back of the book to figure out what was going on) but it was an interesting change from the lack of detail given in the other books we’ve read. Compared to the Road, Dubliners is almost overbearing with the detail. I’m not entirely sold on it, but I think it fit the book well. The book portrays Dublin differently from a history course by giving you a first hand look at things. If you were just reading about Dublin in a history book, they would give you a more polished overview of life in general I think. In Dubliners, you were right there with the people of the time, walking the streets with them, talking to their friends with them. You wouldn’t get that from a history book. However I think both are accurate. You just get to see things from a different perspective.

Joyce shows the history of Dublin through the perspectives of its characters in the books and also the way it is described by these characters. The culture is shown by each individuals own daily routines, or characteristics as well. In a good history course this is also used through the showing of movies or telling of stories, but that is usually not the case. Personally, I feel that the book is more exciting than a typical history course, and actually is quite interesting because you receive more of the perspectives of its own people. It makes me try to relate to the character seeing what they see and makes the learning of Dublin more exciting. This also though can make it historically incorrect, not only because I create a different vision in my head than what is probably true, but also the character most likely does the same. So the book Dubliners is probably not as accurate as a history course may be, but it is definitely more interesting and personally would be my way of wanting to learn the history of a city.

I’m not quite sure that I enjoyed Dubliners very much. The whole undertone of the novel was actually pretty depressing in my opinion. There was little emphasis on what was going well at that time in Dublin, or what good things were happening. I realize that this must have been the reality of this time period, but it did get a little monotonous and started to wear me down quite a bit. It seemed to me like most of the characters felt trapped in Dublin. Many of them just wanted to leave the city, but didn’t have the means to. This just added to feeling of being trapped that I sensed in the book.
One thing that I missed in this novel was growth of the characters. Since we got to spend such little time with each character there was no chance to see each of them evolve. This is usually something I quite enjoy trying to point out, but I couldn’t in Dubliners.

While the stories in Dubliners might not be the most exciting, it’s really cool to see how James Joyce made every word and phrase add to the narrative. The way he used idioms and colloquial sayings to enhance his stories is awesome, even though it also makes it hard to read his work one hundred years later.

Despite Dubliners being a collection of short stories with many characters, James Joyce was able to nicely flesh out each of his characters in a small amount of time. Mrs. Kearney in “A Mother” really captured the essence of an overprotective mother who believes her child is entitled to more than she actually is. In my small hometown, there were a lot of mothers that had similar personalities. James Joyce also did an amazing job of diving into the personalities of his different characters and writing their thoughts and feelings in a realistic and touching way. A couple examples of this are Mr. Duffy reflecting on Mrs. Sinicio’s death in “A Painful Case” and the changing moods of Gabriel in “The Dead.”

This is not the book for a reader who wants a simple, pleasurable read; however, I would definitely suggest this book to anyone who wants to improve his or her writing through learning by example.

I was unable to get into Dubliners the whole time I read it. I found it very frustrating when I would have to keep reading character introductions. The book does portray life in Dublin pretty well I think. I was kind of given a dismal impression of the city and its people though. I usually ended up being disappointed with the ends of the stories since they didn’t necessarily end very well. I good example of a bad ending was the end of “A Mother.” The whole time I was reading it I was expecting it have a good ending with all the issues getting resolved by the final concert, but like all the other stories, the ending turned out very unsatisfying. All in all, I was not a fan of the book.

James Joyce does a fantastic job of displaying his view of Dublin in the late 1800s – early 1900s. He describes the history (as we see it) in detail and in interesting stories. Because the history comes in first hand, we are more apt to listen and appreciate the culture at the time. It is also easy for us to make parallels between what was going on in Dublin in that era and what is now going on in our own lives and surroundings. This is compared to how we might learn of an environment like Dublin in a history class, which provides us not with intimate stories that we can relate to, but rather to purely political and shallow social views. Because in a history class we do not learn about individuals, we cannot relate to their sufferings and feelings. Rather we have to guess what an individual’s story might be from learning about a general class of people.

I think it is interesting that James Joyce chooses to use different forms of writing for each character. For example, it was mentioned in lecture that Joyce was writing as Joyce about Lily (in The Dead), but he also wrote as Lily would write. After thinking about it for awhile, it popped into my head that perhaps he does this to give more than a one-dimensional view of the character, both the view of an onlooker and the view as the character. Just as modernists like to show the dimensions of the characters by showing their oscillating moods (as with Gabriel), I believe this is another way to show the characters’ dimensions. I suppose this allows the reader to really focus on the bigger picture of the story while also incorporating the feelings of each character.

I thought that Joyce put a lot of the culture of times in the Dubliners. In a lot of the stories there was talk of the Nationalist party. I think Joyce was trying to get that feeling of unrest that people of Dublin were having toward being under British control. In counterparts Joyce writes about how Farrington was upset that he lost his reputation because he lost an arm wrestling match to a younger foreign man. It was clear what country he was from just that he was not from Ireland. I think that Joyce was trying to get the feeling that the people of Dublin were losing their Irish identity to outside influences. Although in the Mother short story, Joyce writes about there was some resurgence in Irish pride as some people were beginning to speak in Gaelic again although it was just a few phrases here and there.

James Joyce writes Dubliners in a way to provide a portrait of Dublin as he knew it. He seems to accomplish this in many ways. One technique he uses is to break up the stories based on the social classes they are in. For example, “The Boarding House” gives us insight into the upper lower class while “The Dead” gives us insight into the upper middle or upper class. By looking at Dublin through the eyes of the characters in his stories, it is easier to see a true depiction of the city. When reading about a city in the history books, we see the city through the eyes of the writer and what is most important to him or her. As writers of textbooks are often looking back to a society they did not live in, the facts may not be completely accurate. Joyce presents the circumstances of a time he experienced through each character’s own narrative. This technique is more accurate as it provides an insight on each class through its own eyes and thus the important aspects of each class are carried through.

Joyce’s choices in how he portrays Dublin are painfully specific to that time and place. While a modern American, much less a modern Dubliner, would have difficulty in relating to that instance of specificity and intimacy, I feel it is that dichotomy which draws readers into the stories. It broadsides, in a sense, peoples’ comfort with literature
-- but to a gratifying end. Interest grows, if not for the stories themselves, for the context in which they were written. They are a curiosity, something exotic and unfamiliar. I feel that a more interesting question, then, is how people interpret Dubliners relative to their preexisting level of knowledge of Irish history and culture. Would somebody who has studied the Civil War and cultural identity of Ireland respond to the stories differently? Does confusion add to, or detract from, the general opinion of Dubliners?

I thought that this was an interesting book because one can envision the culture of Dublin through the lives of individuals. In Gabriel’s speech, he is referring to what we kind of touched on in class about how Dubliners look back on and live in the past. He is saying that it is good to look at was done in the past because that is important, but people should be more open to embracing the present and live life today. I feel that this relates to America (not so much living in the past) because of the routines that we all become accustomed to. Joyce is saying that we should break free from the norm and experience new things in our lives. Our every day routines are eating away at our chance to enjoy life and our ability to discover the meaning of life. Live life for today.

This book to me was a little hard to read. It was interesting and provided backgrounds of citizens lives in Dublin, but I was never able to get into the book. There were so many different stories all focusing in on certain characters and it was hard to try and tie them all together. The book seemed like it would be better but maybe I just need to re read it and things that did not stand out to me the first time will stand out again. I do like the fact that Joyce painted a picture of the characters lives in the book. He described everything and gave adequate background information so that you could get a better understanding about it.