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Historical Glimpses

Wednesday, September 2, 2009; 02:43 am Leave a comment Go to comments

In “Ivy Day in the Committee Room,” I see Joyce employing a technique very similar to one that he depends on in the structuring of Ulysses as a whole.  The technique I speak of relates to the narrative decision to give us a glimpse of a historical event and/or context, rather than making things straightforward with regards to the story’s immediate political ramifications.  By giving us glimpses into the lives of everyday people—a technique Dubliners employs as a whole as well as Ulysses—Joyce situates the reader within the world in which the story occurs, instead of discussing that world as a supposedly impartial and removed observer.

 Like we’ve been told about Ulysses, not a whole lot happens in “Ivy Day.”  If we were to get technical, the climax would be when Hynes reads his Parnell poem.  In fact, the shadow of Parnell is where this story gets its tension.  Though I’m certainly not a preferred source on Parnell (as Mari’s post calls for), it is my understanding that he represented the kind of politics Tricky Dicky Tierney does not, according to Hynes.  Based on this preference, it follows that Hynes is the character we get the poetic ode from, which bemoans the unrealized potential of Parnell’s political reign.  When O’Connor and Hynes are discussing Tierney on p. 105, we get a distinction between the “working-classes” and the “working-man.”  Tierney does not seem to have concern for the individual “working-man,” but only for the working-class as a whole.

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