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OPTIONAL: "The Dead"

  • Re-read the first paragraph. Whose voice is this? Whose point of view? Why does he open it like this? Where does the initial movement come from? What’s the hook?
  • Lily is not just herself, but also an echo of other characters from earlier stories. Remind you? Also, other characters reappear...Kathleen Kearney, for example. To what effect?
  • We sit in expectation of Gabriel, and then—-almost forgotten—-Freddy arrives. Then, instead of seeing Freddy, we move to Mr. Browne. Why? What effect?
  • Why so much description of Freddy? Why a “young man of 40?? Why don’t we hear any of Freddy’s words here in direct speech? Why is there so much and so little of Freddy Malins? To what effect? Does he counterpoint Gabriel? Or does it seem so for part of the story?
  • What’s the effect of the conversation with Miss Ivors? How is Gabriel continually thrown off his balance? Why might that be?
  • How does Gabriel’s speech function dramatically (to move the plot)? To echo themes?
  • What is the role of nostalgia? Why so much?
  • What is the function of the last part, after Gabriel understands about his wife's love for Michael Furey? How does our understanding of Gabriel grow/change? How do we feel about him at the end?
  • Does Gabriel fall under authorial criticism in the way that other characters in Dubliners seem to? If there's a change, what is it?
  • What is the function of the final image? What does it leave you with?
  • Who are "The Dead"?


There are a million questions here, so I'll only pick a couple.
In regard to the conversation with Ms. Ivors that Gabriel has, I think it is perfect for his character. As we read "The Dead", Gabriel undergoes a fluctuation of ups and downs, confidence and insecurity, over and over again. His conversation with Ivors only furthers that aspect of his character and his inability to be confident despite being one of the main guests of the party (the man selected to give the speech no less!).
I think we gain more appreciation for Gabriel when he is by the window after his wife falls silent. He finally can see himself, and at the same time he has discovered the idea of a love stronger than anything he's ever felt. We as readers feel that he genuinely may want to change and emulate that passion with his wife that she once shared with Michael Furey. There is hope for Gabriel.
The "Dead" are all of us I think. Gabriel is watching the snow fall and it blankets the whole world, the living and the dead. The "dead' are a collection of memories, of lifetimes and traditions and good times and bad times that all of the living are still participating in and talking about in one great big "Circle of Life" (in the words of Mufasa).

Nostalgia plays a huge role in "The Dead." From the wistfulness of taking back his faux pas with the maid at the beginning to his wife's reveal, Gabriel spends nearly the entire story living in the past and wishing to change it.

I think Gabriel's desire to change the past and make things better contributes greatly to his sense of nostalgia throughout the piece. In fact, only once he has heard his wife's story does he begin to see how things might possibly be different and how he could make up all of the things in his life that he has done wrong - that maybe now he should live in the present.

Again, I hope that it isn't too late for me to make a blog entry.
Anyways I'll address a few of these questions. Gabriel seems to be the only character who doesn't fit the overall theme of Dubliners, he vows to change and make things better. This is a direct opposite view of nearly every character we meet in Dubliners, the all end up right where they started, stuck in Dublin. This makes Gabriel unique, and one of the only characters I wish to know more about what happens to afterwards.
I believe the Dead are all the characters in the story except Gabriel. They all are stuck where they started as I said, they don't make any differences, as far as the rest of the world and the reader is concerned, they could be dead, and no one would even notice.