Dubliners as a Transition from Childhood to Adulthood

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“Dubliners” is a very particular short-story cycle because, unlike most other cycles, the link between its stories is not based on the recurrence of major characters. Instead, Joyce manages to unify the collection by exploring the same themes, such as the desire to escape a routine and the connection between life and death, from different perspectives. Interestingly enough, these perspectives are tainted by the perceptions that different age cohorts have of their surroundings. The text as a whole delves into these issues from, initially, a more naïve and childish point of view and progresses towards a more discouraged and somehow renouncing tone.

“The Sisters” is basically the tale of how a young unnamed boy handles and mourns the death of his friend and mentor, Father Flynn. Although the age of this unnamed boy it not specified, the text abounds in evidence that might lead the reader to believe that this boy is only just discovering the twists and turns of life. With phrases like “the word paralysis… it filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work” (p.1), Joyce invites the reader to presume that this boy has never encountered death and is therefore intrigued by it. Then, Old Cotter, a family friend, repeatedly makes reference to how “there was something uncanny about [Father Flynn]” (p.1) and that he “wouldn’t like children of [his] (…) to have too much to say to a man like that” (p1). Such evaluations and the fact that the boy has strange dreams about Father Flynn confessing his sins to him, give way to the reader’s suspicions that Father Flynn is actually a malevolent figure who acted as much more than a mentor. The boy’s inability to make sense of the true nature of his relationship with Father Flynn is also a clue to realizing that this boy is so young he has not yet been exposed to the dark, more vicious side of life. Then, in “Araby”, another –or maybe the same- unnamed boy describes an intense crush he had...
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