Dubliners by James Joyce: Novel Review

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AP English Final
24 January 2013
The very first story of Dubliners outlines a large theme that can overlay much of the book and may in part be why James Joyce decided to group all of these short stories into one book. The first short story called “Two Sisters” focuses on the paralysis of a young boy as the impending death of his mentor Father Flynn draws closer. The boy walks past the priest’s home showing that a part of him cannot let go and that he himself is paralyzed by the loss of his friend and mentor who was prepping him for the priesthood. In the first paragraph of the book the narrator talks of the word paralysis and says “It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work” (Joyce, 3). The quote summarizes a recurring theme throughout Dubliners and prepares the reader by showing how paralysis in life is dangerous and leads to unhappiness. The story following “Two Sisters” is called “An Encounter” which is about two boys and their adventures while skipping school. Seeking escape from everyday life the boys decide to skip school and have an adventure much like the adventures that Mahoney reads in his books. At the start of their day their original plan is working out for them apart from the fact that Joe Dillon who promised to join them was a no show. However, the title suggests that something would happen to the boys. While they are in a field they see an older man coming right towards them. The old man is particularly creepy towards the boys after asking them about their girlfriends and then leaving walking to another part of the field and then coming back talking of beating Mahoney. Faced by this odd situation the narrator feels paralyzed from taking some sort of action to avoid the old man. Mahoney ran off chasing a cat, but the narrator stayed and instead of leaving as well, the peculiarity of the situation keeps him from acting. The narrator does not respond to the man and sits hoping for the moment...
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