Dubliners by James Joyce: A Painful Case

In this next short story, we meet Mr. James Duffy who enters into a relationship with a married woman, Mrs. Sinico. Duffy works in a bank, but seems to write; he is a true melancholic poet. Duffy and Sinico began to meet (date), but after a little, Sinico acts out (touches his cheek in a moment of passion and courage. Were Duffy’s intentions misinterpreted? Or was this action of Sinico’s misinterpreted? Duffy then breaks up with Sinico. Four years later, Duffy reads an article that reports the death of Sinico, who had become intemperate with drink. She was run over by a train while drunk. Duffy wonders how she could have been so sinful without him knowing. Then, after some time, he wonders how he could have treated her in the way he did. This seems to be a changing point in this short story, but possibly also in the entire work of Dubliners. He recognizes how alone Sinico had felt with her husband and how alone he has felt and will feel.

Those venal and furtive loves filled him with despair. He gnawed the rectitude of his life; he felt that he had been outcast from life’s feast. One human being had seemed to love him and he had denied her life and happiness: he had sentenced her to ignominy, a death of shame. He know that the prostrate creatures down by the wall were watching him and wished him gone. No one wanted him; he was outcast form life’s feast. (p. 113)

What do we make of this? Do we wish that Duffy had stayed in a relationship with a married woman? No matter where we stand, we do know that both Sinico and Duffy feel as outcasts to life’s feast–they feel alone.

The short story ends with this:

He could hear nothing: the night was perfectly silent. He listened again: perfectly silent. he felt that he was alone. (p. 114)


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