A picture is worth a thousand words, but James Joyce manages to paint a pretty vivid one in only two short paragraphs. Joyce offers tremendous insight into the character of Gabriel in the short story "The Dead." He captures the essence of a scene laden with death and laced with tones of despair and hopelessness. By employing third person narration alternating with a stream of consciousness, Joyce demonstrates his abilities to delve deep into Gabriel's mind, illustrating this somewhat detached disposition and low self-image.
The passage takes us through Gabriel's reflections upon past, present, and future events while his inner character unfolds. Joyce's careful use of diction suggests that Gabriel has emotionally closed himself off to the world as he tries to cope with some aforementioned incident. He was "hardly pained" to think about a situation which caused a "riot of emotions" just a little earlier on that evening. Here, Joyce is emphasizing Gabriel's way of coping with an unfavorable event by blocking it out. He continues to "unresentfully" reflect upon what had occurred, closing himself off from any pain he obviously experienced a short while ago.
With the powerful omniscience of a third-person narrator, Joyce is able to describe the workings of Gabriel's inner consciousness without writing from the first-person point of view. Gabriel further detaches himself as he thinks about his wife. He watches her from the point of view of an outsider, as if they were never married. The mere fact that Gabriel is able to do this suggests that he and his wife do not have a truly loving relationship. This assertion is underscored by the "friendly" pity Gabriel feels for his wife, emphasizing the lack of true love in their relationship. Gabriel later questions his wife's honesty, further emphasizing a troubled relationship. The reader may be inclined to infer that Gabriel is completely devoid of compassion; however, this idea is refuted. Gabriel proceeds to express...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document