Clay: Short Story and Joyce’s Stories Essay

Submitted By mikeb8288
Words: 739
Pages: 3

Michael Budd
ENG 210
T TH 2:30-3:45
The story “Clay,” there seemed to be many types of symbols that referred to other stories in the book and also many symbols that could mean several different things. Like in most of Joyce’s stories in “Dubliners” this seems to be a recurring theme. In this story, however, it seemed that there a lot of symbols that were descriptive but in the story not much really transpired. The Hallow eves reference, the Catholic surrounded by Protestants, and of course the name of the story, the clay that she had picked during the game.
In the story “Clay” the first symbol that really caught me was it seems that Joyce is trying to set the tone to be sort of a spooky one by referring to the time of year as Hallow Eves. As I read I expected it to be sort of scary short story but instead it wasn’t. I saw a few extra little parts that seemed to be a Halloween sort of symbolism. When Joyce describes Maria, he describes her features as a very long nose and a very long chin, with grey-green eyes. When I see that I think of a typical picture of a witch. Also, with her being a kind of maid, it seems, there is that picture of her possibly having a broom. In contrast to the typical witchlike characteristics, being devious and evil, Maria is very peaceful. In the story she was said have been the peace-maker. She would break up the fights from the women who quarreled over their tubs and she always succeeded in making the peace. I’m unclear what Joyce was doing with that but it seems to be evident that he may have meant that.
Maria was a Catholic surrounded by Protestants, not sure if this was by choice or not. It could have been she was possibly a widow and nowhere to turn after her husband died. She said that she was actually getting used to them and said that they were pleasant people, which could mean that this was a fairly new situation for her. Although it is never mentioned that she had a husband it sure seemed as if something had happened. At the end, when Maria sings the song she leaves out the part which is talking about basically a knight comes to take her heart and love her. After the song, Joe, who says that Maria is his “proper mother,” starts to cry maybe because he knows she had that love and lost it. Also, the name of the laundromat, “Dublin by Lamplight laundry,” is interesting since it was a real place ran by Protestant widows and childless women. This is interesting since Maria has no children of her own, possibly suggesting that she was a widow.
Joyce did a nice job with the name of the story, “Clay.” It is interesting in that it was