The Sisters, Araby and an Encounter

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"The Sisters", "Araby" and "an Encounter"

These three short stories are from James Joyce's "Dubliners", first published in 1914. The short stories are meant to be a naturalistic description of the Irish middleclass living in Dublin, around 1900.

"The Sisters" tells about a nameless boy and his relationship with a, now dead, priest, Father Flynn. The priest acted as a mentor for the boy. The story starts with the boy pondering over Father Flynn's illness. Later he learns that the priest is dead. That night the boy has a dream (nightmare) about images of the priest, where the boy escapes to a mysterious land. The next day he and his aunt go and visit the house of mourning. They have a conversation with the priest's sisters, which reveals that Father Flynn apparently suffered a mental breakdown after accidentally breaking a chalice.

"An Encounter" involves a boy and his friend skipping school and going to the shore to seek adventure in their own dull lives. Near the end of the short story the boys meets an older man who gives them an odd feeling. First the man charms them by talking about writers and young sweethearts. Then he excuses himself and does something that shocks the boys quite a lot. When he returns he begins a monologue on the subject whipping and punishing ‘bad boys'. The boy, upset, turns to his fried for comfort even though he admits to "always despised him a little."

"Araby" tells the story of a boy who is still a boy, but very interested in adult life and the opposite sex. The boy is especially interested in his best friend's sister, but since he's still a boy he has unrealistic expectations to love, adult life and girls. The boy wants to go to the bazaar Araby, since the girl can't go herself. When he comes there almost all the stalls are closed. He's looking at one of the still open stalls when a girl comes over. Even though he's a potential customer, she wants to go back to her friends. The boy buys nothing and leaves the bazaar...
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