Throughout James Joyce's "Dubliners" there are four major themes that are all very connected these are regret, realization, self hatred and Moral paralysis, witch is represented with the actual physical paralysis of Father Flynn in "The Sisters". In this paper I intend to explore the different paths and contours of these themes in the four stories where I think they are most prevalent, and which I most enjoyed "Araby", "Eveline", "The Boarding House", and "A Little Cloud". The story of "Araby" is that of a young boy probably about the age of adolescence who is having his first crush on his friends sister. Although the boy seems to have no intention of realistically perusing the situation when the girl mentions that there is a fair she wanted to go to but would be unable to attend he offers to pick her up a gift at the fair. It is this situation that leads to the climax. After days of waiting and defeating great odds (his uncle coming home in time to give him money) what seemed like forever to the boy finally passed and he made it to the fair.
Right from the start of the fair things looked bad all the booths where closing and his hopes of getting a nice gift where slim As the boy was searching for a gift he over heard two men flirting with a girl who worked in one of the booths. When the girl saw him listening she asked him in a tone that was not encouraging if he would like to buy by any thing to witch he replied "no thank you" (Joyce. P. 27). The boy then walked away the lights went out and "Gazing up into the darkness I saw my self as a creature driven and derided by vanity: and my eyes burned with anguish and anger". (Joyce. P. 27) This is how the story ends.
The boy is so sickened with himself and with what was making him happy before. Because of his encounter the boy comes to a new realization about the crush he had and actually hates himself for having had it. Because of his hatred for himself which may also be do to his inability to actually by the gift the boy is left with a moral paralysis since he is stuck and cant move on. Of course "time heals all wounds" and the boy should be able to eventually move on. "Eveline" is a short story about a girl who's mother died and is now left with what she feels is the responsibility of taking care of the family. In the story she meets a sailor named frank and we learn she is trying to decide weather or not to run off with him or stay at home with her father who's violence she has recently been fearing.
To all of us reading the story the choice is clear, Eveline has no reason to stay home. Frank on the other hand seems like a great guy. Her inability too choose going with Frank or even show him any signs of recognition as seen here "Her eyes gave him no signs of love or farewell or recognition". (Joyce P. 33) shows a clear moral paralysis.
Eveline in contrast to most of the other main characters shows no realization about what she has learned, has learned nothing about her self to hate and is stuck in a seemingly more hopeless moral paralysis". The Boarding House" is one of the most interesting stories in the book. First we meet Mrs. Mooney, Polly Mooney the main character's mother. Because of her history, mostly her ex husband she has become a very tough self sufficient women. Then we have Polly and her love entrust Bob Doran. At first it seems like Bob a thirty five year old matured man is taking advantage of this young sweet nineteen year old girl.
As the story goes on and the Mrs. Mooney knows of the affair and lets it happen and then wants something from it we are still not sure. Then Mr. Doran's indasigen when he was thinking of what had to be done. "Perhaps they could be happy together... ". It just made him seem so innocent and like a victim (Joyce P. 58). But just like the two other stories I discussed the end tells all.
Just before Mr. Doran was going to go down to meet with Mrs. Mooney Polly was sitting with him on the bed crying when he left she started to think of the possible happy future and then when her mother called her and said "Come down dear Mr. Doran wants to speak to you. She remembered what she had been waiting for". (Joyce P. 59) Since you know there's no way he told Mrs. Mooney no the only thing's for Polly to be so upset about is how she forced him into it. And how she was so happy about a marriage that was agreed upon under these circumstances. Or about having to marry him in the first place. Although this case is very different then the previous two because there are so many possible interpretations it seems that Polly is really most like Eveline since they are both going with the flow and trying to do what there mothers wanted.
But on the other hand Polly is also very much in contrast to Eveline since since she dose have emotional realizations and crying which infers regret. In each of these stories all the main characters have problems of different sorts. All though it seems at first glance as though Eveline is in the best situation at the end since she doesn't completely hate her self and she isn't crying about anything. When we take a closer look we discover that she is really in the worst place of all since she makes no realization she has no chance to move forward, in comparison with the boy in "Araby" who really was just so upset with himself because he realized what a stupid crush he had there is no question he learnt something even though it was hard to deal with. While Polly is difficult to compare with Eveline because they are such opposites Chandler and Eveline make perfect comparisons. Both Chandler and Eveline are stuck in places in life that they are uncertain about and are considering changing.
But when the final decision is made for Chandler the last line in his story is an emotional burst with a realization and regret as is every one else final sentences. With Eveline it is the exact opposite her final line is the complete lack of emotion and not doing anything and just letting things be however they where she has no regret and therefore no realization and is stuck in the same emotional paralysis.