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James Joyce - The Dubliners

The Dead

1) First Part

The two old Morkan sisters, Kate and Julia, lived on the Usher's Island with their only niece, Mary Jane. Their annual dance was always a great success, and all the members of their family and all the people they know took part to it.

Gabriel Conroy, Kate and Julia's nephew, and his wife Gretta arrived quite late, when the dance had already begun. While Gretta was away for a moment with his aunts, Gabriel chatted a little with Lily, the caretaker of the house, and gave her a coin as present for Christmas. When his wife and his aunts went back, they chatted together about the weather, that is snowy, and Gabriel's new galoshes, which his aunts didn't know. Then Gabriel went to take care of Freddy Malins, a man who was yet drunk.

2) Second Part

While Mary Jane was playing the piano in the dancing room, Gabriel was alone, and begun to remind his past, looking at the objects of the room, for example at the pictures done by his aunts when they were young. He remembered his mother, and her disapproval about his marriage with Gretta: according to her, Gretta was only a cunning girl. But Gretta had nursed his mother during her last illness.

The dance finished, and a new one begun: the lancers. Gabriel took part to the dance, and argued with the woman he was dancing with, Miss Ivory, because she discovered he wrote on an English newspaper, the Daily Express, even if he was an Irishman. Then she asked him if he wanted to go on holiday with her on the Aran Isles next summer, but Gabriel refused. He said he didn't care of his Irish culture, and he preferred to visit France, or Belgium, or Germany. Miss Ivory was angry: she called him West Briton, that is a traitor.

When the dance finished, Gabriel talked with Mrs. Malins about places she had lived in and she had visited, but in the meanwhile he kept on thinking about his discussion with Miss Ivory. He wished to escape from the party and to walk in the snow. Then Mary Jane and aunt Julia played and sang an old song. Miss Ivory decided to leave the house, and Gabriel wasn't sure weather it was for their discussion or not. Then he carved the goose, asking every person which part they preferred. While everybody was eating, there was a great knives and forks noise. The main subject of conversation was the opera company at the Theatre Royal, and the beauty of Mount Melleray. At the end of the dinner, Gabriel made a speech. Thinking to Miss Ivory, he said the new generations didn't have those qualities of humanity, kind humour and hospitality that had the old generations. Then he proposed a toast to his aunts and Mary Jane.

3) Third part

The party was going to end, and somebody had already gone. Other people were waiting for a cab, and in the meanwhile Gabriel told Johnny's story. Johnny was a horse who worked in a mill. When the mill was closed, Johnny had to do other works. But one day the horse came in sight of King Billy's statue, and, thinking it was the old mill, he begun walking round the statue. Everybody enjoyed the story. Then the cab arrived, and everybody left.

Gabriel saw his wife Gretta listening to a song Mr. Bartel D'Arcy was singing. When Mr.Bartell finished, Gretta asked him for the name of the song, The Lass of Aughrim, and Gabriel noticed she was sad. Then all together they left the house. While they were walking, Gabriel remembered his life with Gretta, felt to love her and wished to be alone with her. At corner they took a cab, which brought them to their hotel. Gabriel paid for the cab, even if Mr. Bartel D'Arcy protested. Then Gabriel and Gretta went to their hotel room. Gabriel asked Gretta if she was ill or weak, and Gretta explained him why she was so sad.

The song she heard remembered her when she was young and lived with her mother in Galway. She had a boyfriend there, Michael Furey, who often sang that song. Furey loved a lot Gretta, and when she decided to leave Galway to come up to the convent, he run and met her under the rain to ask her not to leave. She implored him to go home, because he had a weak health, but he didn't. He said he preferred to die rather than live without her. After a week she had left Galway, she was informed Furey had died.

Gretta was very sad, and decided to sleep. Gabriel was awake, and thought about how short was his existence and the existence of all the people. The snow was falling over all Ireland, over alive and dead people.

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