Dubliners by James Joyce: Grace

James Joyce finishes his penultimate story of his Dubliners with a homiletic speech by Father Purdon:

…Jesus Christ was not a hard task master. He understood out little failings, understood the weaknesses of our poor fallen nature, understood the temptations of this life. We might have had, we we all had from time to time, our temptations: we might have, we all had, our failings. But one thing only, he said, he would ask of his hearers. And that was: to be straight and manly with God. If their accounts tallied in every point to say:

–Well, I have verified my accounts. I find all well.

But if, as might happen, there were some discrepancies, to admit the truth, to be frank and say like a man:

–Well, I have looked into my accounts. I find this wrong and this wrong. But, with God’s grace, I will rectify this and this. I will set right my accounts.

(p. 174).

This last section of this story, this sermon, is the passage in Dubliners most orthodox in nature. This passage strikes me as beautifully true and reflective of Scripture. It seems that in other parts of these short stories, Joyce pushes back against orthodoxy. Why is this sermon in here? What is the significance of this sermon? Where is Joyce and what does he believe? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I will continue to think about them.


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