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The Dead

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The Dead

When Gabriel Conroy delivers his wordy yet incredibly moving speech to the gaggle of Dubliners gathered together for the Holidays, he worries, possibly even fears, death. He talks of the future, making it sound cold and inhospitable. He lays compliments on his aunts one after the other about their “ perennial youth’ (pg.166) and their kid ways. Gabriel addresses both the future and the present using a compare and contrast method, making one seem comforting and homey, the other dark and unknown. This comparison adds the aspect of death to Gabriel’s speech because of impermanence of his Aunt Julia and Aunt Kate; the impermanence of good old Irish hospitality, warmth and love.
The reader is also a sense of Gabriel’s desperate fear of death when he speaks of his Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia. He seems defiant of the fact that they are both old and won’t be around to throw parties like these much longer. Gabriel constantly harps on their energy and youthfulness. At first, he sounds simply like a polite young man fiercely complimenting his elder family members as many people do. But as his speech continues and he begins to discuss the attributes of each aunt and how they effect everyone else in the room, Gabriel begins to sound more and more like he is trying to grab and hold on to something completely intangible. And I think that “thing” is youth. He is trying to preserve his aunts, and every wonderful thing that they represent, forever. He sees that once they perish, there will be no one to throw these parties anymore, no one to extend a warm welcome to anyone who enters their home. In the future, without Gabriel’s aunts, everything they know today will gone; all because of death.
Gabriel starts out his speech with talk of the ideas, both political and scientific, that are beginning to sprout out of young people’s minds as they speak. He fears that these young, educated people will not look back on parties like they are holding at this moment and recognizes the “ qualities of humanity, of hospitality, of kindly humour” (pg. 165) that run rampant through each and every room. He seems to realize the importance of these qualities and he fears that when his generation dies out, so will the mannerisms of the Old Irish ways, the comfort these ways bring him, and mostly, life as he knows it.
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