Literary Analysis: Clay and The Dead Essay

Literary Analysis: Clay and The Dead Essay

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Literary Analysis: Clay and The Dead

In the fifteen Dubliners stories, city life, religion, friends and family bring hope to individuals discovering what it means to be human. Two stories stood out in James Joyce’s Dubliners. One story attempts to mislead readers as it is hard to follow and the other story is the most famous story in the book. In the stories “Clay” and “The Dead,” James Joyce uses escape themes to deal with the emotions of the characters, Maria and Gabriel living in the Dublin society. Both stories take place during the winter on Halloween and Christmas, which are the holiday seasons and the season of death.

In “Clay,” the main character, Maria is a patient, old woman and a former maid for rival brothers Joe and Alphy Donnelly. Now that they’re all grown up, she seems to be “lost” in her life, childless and unmarried, and is now an employee at a Laundromat. Maria has struggled for what seems like most of her life both financially and socially. Maria lives on a small but independent income from a job that earns her the respect of co-workers and bosses. Glimpses of poverty are seen in this story when Maria becomes concerned that she lost the cake that she bought for the Donnelly family. “Maria said she had brought something special for papa and mamma, something they would be sure to like, and she began to look for her plumcake” (99). Maria’s loss of the cake is painful because she paid a big price for it. Maria was trying to treat her loved ones despite her limited income.

Although Gabriel from “The Dead” isn’t poor like Maria, he isn’t very wealthy either unlike his aunts. Gabriel is just an average writer. He doesn’t hold annual parties like his aunts do every year to make him seem snobbish to others. J...

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... U.S.A: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2002.

Langbaum, Robert “The Epiphanic Mode in Wordsworth and Modern Literature.” New Literary History Vol. 14 (1983): 335-358. JSTOR. University of Dayton, Roesch Library. 18 February 2004 <>.

Munich, Adrienne “Form and Subtextt in Joyce’s ‘The Dead’” Modern Philology Vol. 82 No.2 (Nov. 1984) 173-184. JSTOR University of Dayton, Roesch Library.20 February 2004 < >

Norris, Margot “Narration under a Blindfold: Reading Joyce’s ‘Clay.’” PMLA Vol. 102 (1987): 206-215. JSTOR. University of Dayton, Roesch Library. 18 February 2004 <>.

Orfe Literature. Ed. James Joyce. 17 February 2004. <> .

Owens, Coilin. “Clay (3): The Mass of Mary and All the Saints.” James Joyce Quarterly 28 (1990): 257-266.

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