An Analysis of the short story The Dead of James Joyce
At first when we start reading it appears to be a story about the annual Christmas party thrown by sisters Julia and Kate Morkan and their niece Mary Jane. And for most of the story it actually is. The tale is set in winter, which is the time of holiday and also the time of death. Two old sisters become symbols of elapsed time and old age. They live in the old house on Usher’s Island, which I think is a symbol of isolation. They live there with their niece and caretaker’s daugther Lily which helps them with a household. Aunt Kate and Julie like comfort and eating well. We meet there glimpses of poverty only by Lily, she is a caretaker’s daughter, her family is poor. Other ...view middle of the document...
In the Gabriel’s confusing conversation with Mrs.Ivors we can see the political divisions in Ireland. Gabriel is disturbed of this miscommunication. And changed from the selfconfident person into the person who is worried of another failure. Gretta, his wife lately fills Gabriel’s mind as a rescue boat of not well happened evening. He deeply loves her. Gabriel romantically realized. her shapes and beauty and started to plan romantic night.
After they had left the party he ordered a room for them. He hoped that Gretta is same tuned as he is, but she was kind of upset. The explaination is that she had rememberd her exboyfriend from her girlhood, which died for her. She was crying and sad, after she had told almost all of the story, she aspleep. In Gabriel’s soul had everything changed. He felt, that he could never be so important for Gretta as her exboyfriend Michael Furey. He thinks of Aunt Julia’s impending death and this thoughts of mortality leads him to understand that to be alive is to be in the process of becoming a shade. Tears fills his eyes, he is imagining the dead boy and he loses himself, he felt he is among the dead.
LAST 3 lines of the story:
His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow faintly falling through the universe faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
Main Theme and symbols
Miscommunication as I have described before.
Inability to handle out the loss of those we loved.
Mortality, that awaits all beings.
Isolation Aunties had mooved into the dark old house on the Usher’s island after the death of their brother Pat.
The snow as a symbol of the becoming death.
Faintlly falling and falling faintlly as elements of language music