By John Blades (auth.)
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Extra resources for How to Study James Joyce
A key indication of Joyce's interest in the story comes with the appearance of the word 'respect', in the middle of our extract, referring to Martin Cunningham's public standing. This description of his own impeccable social status, coming so soon after Kernan's degradation, is part of the moral function of the story. Notice the acclaim accorded Cunningham: thoroughly sensible, influential, intelligent, naturally astute, well-informed; and his friends defer to his opinion. This is later undermined by the narrator, particularly in that Cunningham is misinformed, and misinforming, in the dispute about the Church (he gets the 'mottoes' of the popes wrong and he mistakes the identities of the churchmen who voted against the doctrine of 'infallibility' [pp.
He has been crushed by Gretta's unexpected reminiscence of Michael Furey, a former lover, whose apparently selfless death and platonic devotion to her has acted as a bitter contrast to Gabriel's growing passion for his wife on their way back to the hotel room. The cold air, too, contrasts with Gabriel's passion, chilling his shoulders, a reminder of the moment when he arrived at the Morkan's house-party with snow 'like a cape on the shoulders of his overcoat' [po 177]. The use of contrasts is an important feature of each of Joyce's works, helping to focus attention vividly on their themes and characters under consideration, and, in the above passage, we can examine how the use of such contrast operates.
Dublin is several times the object of his frustration but in reality this is only DUBLINERS 45 an outward reflex, a denial of his own weaknesses, and he timidly submits to what he calls 'fortune'. Notice how the narrator cleverly avoids making a direct moral comment on Chandler, leaving him instead to make it himself. The result is doubly effective. We become more intimate with the character's consciousness at this crucial moment but, further, by adopting this internal state within the fraught mind of Chandler we get a clearer idea of his frustration, especially in the obsessive recurrence of Chandler's words and his unresolved self-examination, which turns him back onto his distressed consciousness.
How to Study James Joyce by John Blades (auth.)