Araby-a short story by James Joyce

The third story from James Joyce’ Dubliners is called Araby, the title is a reference to the bazaar which features in the story itself. It also alludes to the exotic nature of the theme of the story.

It is narrated from a young boy’s point of view, which gives the story an inward and awkward feel. The main character is in love with a lovely girl referred to as “Mangan’s sister”, it is set in North Richmond Street in Dublin. The story is short and quickly builds to Joyce’s epiphany for his character. The narrator goes off on a quest to buy something for Mangan’s sister. He becomes preoccupied with this quest and his day leading up to it is tiresome and routine. So far, these themes of routine and day to day life being at the forefront of Joyce’s Dubliners. He eventually gets to the Bazaar to purchase a gift for Mangan’s sister.

He arrives late and the market is silent and dark. He hangs around a few stalls and does not buy anything, due to a number of reasons. He gets an awful realisation in the last paragraph when he fails his quest. A lady at the last stall rejects him. He takes this as an almost sexual rejection and is humiliated and embarrassed and sees this small incident as a big one. He turns away from the bazaar, this is the reality. He has faced up to something that most people may never face up to. His vision of perfect, sexualised and romantic love is tarnished and love will always cause pain. Routine is the best, comfort does not cause pain to a human. New experiences cause pain.

Araby is one of 15 stories in James Joyce’s Dubliners, a short story collection which you can pick up for a couple of euro or free on your kindle! Bargain!

Call back to my blog tomorrow as I will be giving my thoughts on John Boyne’s re modelling of this very story from the new Dubliners 100 collection. High hopes!

An Encounter-a short story from Dubliners 100

An Encounter-a short story written by Mary Morrissy from the Dubliners 100

The brilliant thing about Joyce’s Dubliners short story collection is the symbiosis that occurs between each story and the whole collection. Dubliners 100 is a new short story collection, each story written by a new author. This makes it harder to ensure there is a natural progression and development between each story and the collection.

This becomes apparent in Mary Morrissy’s take on An Encounter,
The first story in the collection, written by Patrick Mc Cabe is Three Sisters. This story sets the tone for the collection and the second story builds and adds to its meaning and reading. The style is also quite similar, both narrated in the first person and with almost the same type of writing style, we can easily explore and access its shared themes.

Mary Morrissy and Patrick Mc Cabe are complete opposites, in terms of the style they have used in these stories. The way they have interpreted the themes of Joyce’s story is entirely different. Mc Cabe lifts  the story up and turns it on its head, it is a subtle and whacky take. Whereas, Morrissy plays with the theme, almost replicating the story of An Encounter but adds wonderfully reflective flashbacks from the young narrator’s past. 

Morrissy’s An Encounter is narrated by a young girl, with a friend who we hate and she hates too. They head off on an adventure. They bump into a hugely apparent weird old man. The narrator is left in a state of numbness or paralysis as Joyce’s Leo character. She is saved by her friend and also has a realisation about her youth through a future scene with her father.

There is nothing wrong with replicating the events of An encounter. To be honest, I think that this story has became so iconic and the evil pedophile image is so stereotyped now that it is difficult for the reader not to be led to the conclusion that this is a bad man. Morrissey does add a twist at the end that attempts to move from this and this is a brave thing. I think that this story would have been the most difficult to write and do something different with. However, Joyce’s subtle way of not showing what the bad man in his story is doing and leaving much to the reader’s imagination is superior to this version. The image of the pedophile is over played. We are told and told and told that there is danger in this man whereas in the Joyce original, we remain uncomfortable and unsure, almost sheltered.

I enjoyed the story and admire its take on the themes, its clever use of flashback and description of the landscapes. Joyce wins this round, as always in my own humble opinion. It’s hard to please a Rozzie.

An Encounter by Mary Morrissy is a short story in the new collection, Dubliners 100, published by Tramp Press and launched on 5th June 2014.

You can read Mary’s review of the writing process and the story, An Encounter here


An Encounter-a short story by James Joyce

An Encounter, a short story written by James Joyce, is the second story in the Dubliners short story collection. Joyce carries on with his overarching themes of paralysis, religion, ritual and routine and the sinister, dirty man from the first story is brought to life in a new but familiar form.


We have the basic story of two young boys who go on the doss from school. Leo, the narrator and Mahony go on an adventure in various parts of Dublin. They want to break out of the seemingly boring school life they have but when something adventurous happens, they realise they don’t actually want this. The introduction of the “adventure” comes in the form of a brilliant, subtle man. Mahony leaves the narrator alone and we, as the reader, as we well as the boys are tuned in immediately to his oddness. He begins talking about girls and then moves onto the topic of whipping. This is where the paralysis sets in for the narrator and for the reader as we are left hopeless but not quite sure what will happen.

This story contains so much in it but also builds on the story before where the narrator deals with a rite of passage, death and here in this story, the narrator deals with a change in his life, a realisation that he is alone and unlike the boy who he thought was his friend. It ends on a lonely note with the narrator being glad that Mahony has returned to “save him” but yet, he realises he never really liked him anyway.

I absolutely adore this story. I love the themes. i love the writing and the description of Dublin. I love the weirdness and the way it links with the last story. I love the genius of the fact that Joyce pushes and develops his themes from story to story. This is no ordinary short story collection though can be read as just that, an entertainment but a reflection on life and what it is to be a human, with all the inner turmoil that goes with it. Joyce was a bit of a fe^&er that way. He the man.

An Encounter is the second story in Dubliners written by James Joyce. Read my next blog post where I will compare this story with Mary Morrissy’s one, her story An Encounter is published in the Dubliners 100, published by Tramp Press and launched on 7th June 2014.

Review:The sisters-a short story by Patrick Mc Cabe(Dubliners 100)

dublinersThis short story, The Sister, was written in response to Joyce’s short story of the same name. It is written by Patrick Mc Cabe in his unique and sometimes meandering writing style. I do find his stories somewhat difficult to get into as they flit from one character/event to the next with no easy lead in. Was this a risk to open this collection with?


At first, I found it impossible to see a connection with the original story but by the end, it is clear where Mc Cabe was aiming for. One of the major themes of Joyce’s The Sisters story is that of the family or the homestead. Mc Cabe’s story shows a family in the middle of a conflict, their chimney has gone on fire! It shows the aggression between father and mother with the child, the narrator of the story, in the middle of it. He too is in paralysis. In Mc Cabe’s story, the young boy is numbed by his parents arguing in front of everyone and he goes off into a dream sequence. By the end of the sequence, the young boy is “returned to himself..untilted…ossified.”

As in Joyce’s story, there is a huge emphasis on death and Mc Cabe spends time detailing what would happen to the body if it were to be choked by the smoke and fire. The character has a Joyce-like epiphany where he realises the truth about his family. It takes a fire or a death to do this.

Though, at first I could not see the link as I read on and digested the ending of Mc Cabe’s story, I think that he wrote a very clever and subtle take of Joyce’s The Sisters. One that will provoke thought and debate.

Next story is An Encounter.

Dubliners 100 is published by Tramp Press and contains 15 reworkings of James Joyce’s Dubliners.

The Sisters-a short story by James Joyce

To commemorate the anniversary of Joyce’s Dubliners, his short story collection, Tramp Press have released a new collection. Dubliners 100- a reimagining of Joyce’s classically brilliant collection. I can only imagine the turmoil these writers felt when they were asked to take on a story by Joyce and make it into their own. Thomas Morris, the Editor of the new Dubliners 100 discusses this in his Introduction:A Strange traffic of sorts. I will blog about this later as this editorial introduction is a short story in itself.

The Sisters-a short story by James Joyce

I have read this story so many times. First, when I was in U.C.D. and then so many times since then. The first thing that struck me was the oddness of the character of Father Flynn and the uncomfortableness of the relationship of the narrator with him. Words like paralysis stood out immediately and shaped the rest of the collection’s theme and feel for me.

The story, at its most basic level is about the narrator, a young boy and his friendship with the soon-to-die priest, Father Flynn. The story ambles along towards the “climax” where the young boy sits with Father Flynn’s sisters after viewing the priest’s corpse in his house. The sister tells us about the priest’s state of mind and how it had began to diminish over the years, leading to his death.

But, this is not just entertainment. Joyce is propping the rest of the collection up by using the word “Paralysis”. The young narrator thinks of this word when he thinks of the priest along with other seemingly strange words like a gnomon, a term for the part of a sundial that casts the shadow. Writers often leave details out so the reader can make the connections themselves and in this way, Joyce is pointing to the puzzle of the story, its details and suggestions and the whole of the novel. But, he will not give us the answer. So, when we get a hint towards the way the priest makes the young boy feel uncomfortable, we get only that hint and we will have to think more to what it might mean in terms of the whole.

The other interesting thoughts this story provokes is one of religion, mental health, death and its ability to disconnect us. These themes of paralysis or disconnection with life i.e. a death feature throughout the story in its characters and its actions. We are left inb no doubt to Joyce and his feelings on religion as in much of his writing. Religion paralyses or breaks people. Will it break the narrator? I don’t think the story points to this but the fact that the narrative is given through the first person, it allows us to hope for that the young boy is detached and can come to his own reasoning on religion and whether the priesthood is for him or not.

In Dubliners 100, Patrick Mc Cabe has been handed the honour of opening the collection with his version of this puzzling story. I will review it straight after this, once this story has been allowed to sit.

Dubliners 100 is published by Tramp Press and is being launched in Dublin on Thursday, 5th June 2014. More details here