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Is it cold in here?

Thursday, September 3, 2009; 04:25 am Leave a comment Go to comments

I am super embarrassed that I didn’t post last night. It literally 😉 slipped my mind completely. Anyway, here’s my retrospective analysis of “The Dead”:

As shown by the cigarette, among other things, in “Ivy Day,” and the idea of death and rebirth in “The Dead,” Joyce appears to be fond of framing. The image of snow both opens and closes “The Dead, both times closely associated with Gabriel. At the opening of the story, Gabriel and Gretta arrive at the Morkan’s, they quickly take off the galoshes they wore to the aunts’ house. Gretta jettisons her galoshes quickly, but Gabriel remains on the threshold, not yet entering the house which has a multiplicity of meaning that I won’t go into. Instead, he remains outside carefully, “vigorously” scraping the snow off his boots (153). Joyce goes into detail describing how the snow lit on Gabriel’s clothes and shoes, which he works diligently to remove.

Cold and winter weather appear again towards the end of the story, this time the weather, in the form of D’Arcy’s cold, is instrumental in shaping the unfolding of the story’s conclusion. In this case, D’Arcy’s cold prevents him from singing to the full dinner group, which means that he sings later, as Gabriel and Gretta are leaving, prompting Gretta’s poignant reflection and Gabriel’s lustful interest. In this case winter weather operates as a plot moving element.

Finally, paralleling Gabriel’s attention to the snow in his first scene, the story ends with imagery of snow, tapping on the window like Gretta’s long dead lover. The flakes are described as “silver and dark” rather than the traditional white, making them seem not sinister, but still connoting death. The movement of falling, the word being repeated six times in the last paragraph alone, also implies death. The final image of the story is snow falling on Michael Furey’s grave, falling “upon all the living and the dead,” touching everyone, just like the universal experience of death.

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