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The Sisters, Araby And An Encounter

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"The Sisters", "Araby" and "an Encounter"

These three short stories are from James Joyce's "Dubliners", first published in 1914. The short stories are meant to be a naturalistic description of the Irish middleclass living in Dublin, around 1900.

"The Sisters" tells about a nameless boy and his relationship with a, now dead, priest, Father Flynn. The priest acted as a mentor for the boy. The story starts with the boy pondering over Father Flynn's illness. Later he learns that the priest is dead. That night the boy has a dream (nightmare) about images of the priest, where the boy escapes to a mysterious land. The next day he and his aunt go and visit the house of mourning. They have a conversation with the priest's sisters, which reveals that Father Flynn apparently suffered a mental breakdown after accidentally breaking a chalice.

"An Encounter" involves a boy and his friend skipping school and going to the shore to seek adventure in their own dull lives. Near the end of the short story the boys meets an older man who gives them an odd feeling. First the man charms them by talking about writers and young sweethearts. Then he excuses himself and does something that shocks the boys quite a lot. When he returns he begins a monologue on the subject whipping and punishing Ð''bad boys'. The boy, upset, turns to his fried for comfort even though he admits to "always despised him a little."

"Araby" tells the story of a boy who is still a boy, but very interested in adult life and the opposite sex. The boy is especially interested in his best friend's sister, but since he's still a boy he has unrealistic expectations to love, adult life and girls. The boy wants to go to the bazaar Araby, since the girl can't go herself. When he comes there almost all the stalls are closed. He's looking at one of the still open stalls when a girl comes over. Even though he's a potential customer, she wants to go back to her friends. The boy buys nothing and leaves the bazaar angry.

One of the main connections between these three short stories is that all of them are told by a first person narrator. This is important because you get a closer look into the boys' minds and feelings. All the stories are told retrospective (the boy is older when he tells the story than when it happened).

In "an Encounter" the main point isn't their trip, but the people they meet and see. The boy notices things and uses words he wouldn't use if he were just a little boy. For example: The boys are mistaken for Protestants by some local children. The narrator also notices that many of the children are ragged and poor. He uses the word "liberal" at one point, a word he shouldn't know if he were a little boy. In "Araby" and in "the Sisters" the boys also use words too difficult for their own age. That the stories are told in a retrospective first person point of view has a lot to say for the way we interpret the short stories. The boys might have made an opinion about the way they want to tell the story, so we'll be left with a specified emotion. What we read is something the boy has decided to think later, not what the thought in the heat of the moment.

The special thing about "Dubliners" is that every short story ends with the main character getting an epiphany (suddenly realizing or comprehension of the meaning of something).

This happens in these short stories as well. The boys have unrealistic expectations to the adult life, and the stories ends with them getting their illusions and dreams broken. They all come to realize that adult life is boring, dull and sometimes horrible.

In "Araby" the boy expects a lot of love and girls. But when he goes to the bazaar, it isn't the magic place he hoped it would be. Worst, is the realizion of his vision of sexuality is wrong. The young woman in the stall doesn't care about him at all. She's just waiting for him to finish so she can return to her friends. The boy's vision of Araby is destroyed, along with his vision of his



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