This is the first of fifteen short stories in James Joyce’s collection
Dubliners. (It’s not “The” Dubliners, just Dubliners.)
The first line: “There was no hope for him this time: it was
his third stroke.”
That’s Joyce for you—-off and running.
The “him”–the stroke victim, is the local priest –the Reverend James Flynn
–and our young narrator had been his student–had learned to speak Latin
properly from him. The priest had told him stories about the catacombs,
church history and quizzed him about moral predicaments and whether
acting in a certain manner would be a mortal or a venial sin, or only an
In the evening, the boy’s aunt and he go to the house of mourning to pay
their respects. They are greeted by the sisters of the fallen priest. The
one motions to the aunt–to go upstairs?–and the boy and his aunt
follow the elderly sister up the stairs to the bedroom— (she) “proceeded
to toil up the narrow staircase before us, her bowed head scarcely
above the level of the banister-rail.”
Downstairs again a decanter of sherry is brought out and glasses are
passed, along with cream crackers. The boy declines the crackers,
fearful that the crunching would make too much noise in that house.
The conversation turns to the signs the sisters had concerning their
brother’s final days. There had been some troubling events.
“It’s when it’s all over when you’ll miss him,” said my aunt.
It’s a story of family, of Catholicism, of Ireland, simply told, yet
P.S. Whoever (heh-heh) drew this illustration has shown some
awkwardness in the details, but I defend (her) ultimate definition
of the sense of the piece–the destination–the trek to that