Essay on Character Movement in James Joyce's Dubliners

3532 Words15 Pages
Character Movement in Dubliners In a letter to his publisher, Grant Richards, concerning his collection of stories called Dubliners, James Joyce wrote: My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis. I have tried to present it to the indifferent public under four of its aspects: childhood, adolescence, maturity, and public life. The stories are arranged in this order. I have written it for the most part in a style of scrupulous meanness and with the conviction that he is a very bold man who dares to alter in the resentment, still more to deform, whatever he has seen and heard (Peake 2). Joyce's passion…show more content…
Physical movement becomes especially important in presenting spiritual paralysis in "Sister," the first story of Dubliners. The main character, a nameless young boy, is brought by his aunt, to mourn for Father James Flynn, a priest who has recently died. He had been physically paralyzed by a number of strokes, but had also experienced spiritual paralysis because he had broken a sacred chalice. According to C.H. Peake, author of James Joyce: The Citizen and the Artist, "The breaking of the chalice was a breach of ritual: the emptiness of the chalice, each time it is referred to, symbolizes a ritual from which all spiritual content has been emptied. Only the forms remain . . . religion, like the old priest himself, is paralyzed" (13). The dead priest represents the state of the Irish Church. The young boy moves toward spiritual paralysis when he travels west to the drapery house where a priest lived, a house "where the windows look west and reflect the false gold of the western clouds" (Bidwell and Heffer 72). Even when the boy returns eastward to his home, the street on which he lives, North Richmond Street, is a dead-end street. This dead-end is a physical barrier to his attempts to progress east toward escape. The childhood stories depict attempts to flee East that are never actualized. Both the young boy and the elderly priest fall under this category. The young boy dreams of the Middle Eastern country of Persia and recalls, "I felt that I had been very

More about Essay on Character Movement in James Joyce's Dubliners

Open Document