Relationship Between His Characters And Their Environment In James Joyce's Dubliners

Submitted By pleasehelpsos101
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Pages: 7

How does Joyce treat the relationship between his characters and their environment in Dubliners?

James Joyce uses the environment of his stories to define his characters and the situations that they experience. The environments that the characters come into contact with define them as a character, as well as define their experiences and how they exist in the world. The environments pertains to theme, which in turn, also contributes to characterization. James Joyce’s use of setting to reflect the characters and their journeys within Dublin can be found in all of his short stories, but can be specifically found in The Sisters and Araby. In The Sisters, Joyce introduces the main character who is dealing with the death of the local priest, Father Flynn. The story starts with the little boy reflecting and thinking about the window that he stares up at on his way home every day. “Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis.” In other words, he’s gazing up at the window and thinking about the idea of paralysis, mainly because Father Flynn suffered from paralyzing strokes, but this also reflects a deeper theme within the story. “In the dark of my room I imagined that I saw again the heavy grey face of the paralytic. I drew the blankets over my head and tried to think of Christmas. But the grey face still followed me.” (Page 6- University of Adelaide Library eBook edition)The young boy is haunted by Father Flynn, even if he doesn’t know it, in a way this is a version of paralysis. The young boy is stuck being haunted by the priest, but he is not actively aware of the fear that he is feeling. His uncle and Old Cotter believe that children should be friends with children who are their own age because it helps them to build character. They find it strange that the young boy is friends with Father Flynn. They don’t come right out and say that something is wrong with this relationship, but the young boy’s nightmares reflect this idea, as well as, his dark bedroom. The next day the young boy visits Father Flynn’s home, which looks welcoming to the outside world, however the young boy describes the room where Father Flynn would have been sitting if the young boy was coming to visit him. “Had he not been dead I would have gone into the little dark room behind the shop to find him sitting in his arm-chair by the fire, nearly smothered in his great-coat.” (Page 6- University of Adelaide Library eBook edition) Although, the young boy sounds reminiscent and nostalgic about his visits to Father Flynn, the reader gets a different feeling. The description sounds foreboding and dangerous, not necessarily warm and welcoming. The boy continues to reflect on his dream, but can only remember the, “long velvet curtains and swinging lamp of antique fashion.” He claims to have felt very far away in a strange land, perhaps Persia. The use of Persia in his recollection alludes to the fact that the young boy felt as if he was in a magical place, when in reality he was having a nightmare. In his article, Gerard Hannan observes, “They live the lives of ordinary people often oblivious to the impact of tragedy and environment in the shaping of their lives and thinking.” (Hannan) In this case, Hannan’s observations are correct, in the young boy’s recollections, he sees nothing wrong with Father Flynn, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is strange, especially when everyone else noticed that something was wrong with him. Also, the fact that he is remembering his nightmare as being in a magical place. Joyce is using the setting to emphasize the flaws in the protagonists’ logic, as well as, to emphasize the theme of paralysis. Joyce uses the idea of magical places versus reality in his story, Araby, as well. In Araby, the young boy lives in a neighborhood that is only brought to life by the children. Without the children, the neighborhood is cold and ultimately dead. “An uninhabited house of two storeys stood