James Joyce’s An Encounter: Insights and Interpretations

Topics: Fiction, Dubliners, O'Connell School Pages: 2 (600 words) Published: November 19, 2008
There are many critiques and views of James Joyce’s “An Encounter.” On the surface it seems like an uneventful story of two young boys looking for an adventure, but taking a deeper look there are many components to talk about in detail. When reading the criticism I have found that some critics find one part of the story more important then other might find important. For instance one critic may find the actual “encounter” and what was said more important to the story then the adventure that the narrator wants. These three critics decide to critique and analyze different parts to the story. Each has valid interpretation as well as great insight.

“An Encounter” was written in 1908 in Joyce’s home town of Dublin. Joyce’s brother said that “my brother describes a day’s miching which he and I planned and carried out while we were living in North Richmond Street, and our encounter with an elderly pederast.” so even though this is a fiction story it was based on true events.

James P. Degnan seems to concentrate mostly on the last paragraph when the narrator says to the reader “And I was penitent; for in my hart I had always despised him {Mahony} a little” in his essay called “The Encounter in Joyce’s ‘An Encounter.’” Degnan believies that there is a “conflict between what Mahony represents and what the narrator represents” and the narrator “despises” Mahony for being able to walk away from the man when the narrator was to “well mannered” to walk away when an adult is talking. One reason Degnen gives for the narrator “despising” Mahony is that Mahony is always coming to the “aid” of the narrator. When the narrator was intelligent enough to use false names he actually assumed this false identity and it was Mahony that “saves the narrator to reality, to his real name”This can very well be true after all it is hard to be wrong in literature, and this is stated in one of the most important lines (the last line of a story) but there is one thing I will have to disagree...
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