Home Student EssaysDubliners By James Joyce

Dubliners By James Joyce

.. only wish was to have fun and celebrate.”18 This just about shows how they started off the party. Joyce then writes, “They drank, however: it was Bohemian. They drank Ireland, England, France, Hungary, the United States of America. Jimmy mad a speech, a long speech, Villona saying Hear! hear! whenever there was a pause.

There was a great clapping of hands when he sat down. It must have been a good speech.”19 In this sequence of passages it seems as if the characters move from childhood to adulthood in an instance. They are starting to get drunk. One reason being they drank to six different countries. The other that they were already drinking on top of that.

The freedom that this proposes is the freedom of adulthood. In that sense being that adults have the freedom of drinking at social events without having to worry about any repercussions. At one point in the story we see the characters move from freedom to tight entrapment and at the last second when the entrapment looks as though it will conquer the party, it is destroyed by the escape. Joyce shows this in the following passage: They talked volubly and with little reserve. Jimmy, whose imagination was kindling, conceived the lively youth of the Frenchmen twined elegantly upon the firm framework of the Englishman’s manner.

A graceful image of his, he thought, and a just one. He admired the dexterity with which their host directed the conversation. The five young men had various tastes and their tongues had been loosened…..Here was the congenial ground for all…The room grew doubly hot and Segouin’s task grew harder each moment: there was even danger of personal spite. The alert host at an opportunity lifted his glass to Humanity and, when the toast had been drunk, he threw open a window significantly.20 This passages shows the turning point in the story of where freedom and entrapment actually come together for the first time in this story. At the beginning of the passage the guest are all comfortable and relaxed.

They eat dinner and then begin to have conversations. The actual conflict between freedom and entrapment comes when Villona is trying to ridicule the great romantic painters. Seguoin suddenly changes the subject to politics. The room began to get very uncomfortable and Seguoin had a much harder time trying to get his point across. He was most likely going to make a fool out of himself.

The host realizes this and quickly proposes a toast. He most likely did this to deter the guests from realizing that Sequin was blabbering on about nothing. Vargas Llosa comments on this by saying, “the toast was highly needed for Seguoin was beginning to feel trapped in a bad situation. He could not easily get out of this, so the toast was a great diversion from him. However, to clear things up the window was definitely needed to be opened.

The opening of the window provided a calming effect over the guests.”21 Vargas Llosa hits the entrapment motif on target. He helps support the contradiction of freedom versus entrapment throughout “After the Race.” Moving into the motif of entrapment, the clustered streets of Dublin are shown. This following quote from Joyce shows that there was a literal and figurative sense to the streets being an entrapment. Joyce writes, “They drove down Dame Street. The street was busy with unusual traffic, loud with the horns of motorists and the gongs of impatient tram-drivers.”22 This literally shows the entrapped state of the city. Jimmy and his friend had to later make their way through this crowd.

Now comes the figurative aspect of this passage. Garrett writes, “The loud horns and gongs of the tram-drivers alludes to the Book of Revelation. When the Lord is ready to make his second coming, the trumpets of archangels are going to be blown all round the earth. Every human will hear them. It will dawn the beginning of the end.”23 What Garrett claims fits in with the paralysis and death motif’s that are found throughout the novel.

This is just a very subtle example of death. Villona is also entrapped by a certain feeling and that is hunger. Although hunger might not seem as a great entrapment, it is argued by Vargas Llosa that it is. The passage in the novel by Joyce that tells of Villona’s situation is the following, “His father, therefore, was unusually friendly with Villona and his manner expressed a real respect for foreign accomplishments; but this subtlety of his host was probably lost upon the Hungarian, who was beginning to have a sharp desire for dinner.” 24 He could not pay attention to what Jimmy’s father was speaking to him about because he was entrapped by his selfishness. All he wanted to do was eat for he was hungry.

Vargas Llosa comments on this when he says, “Villona was held back by one of mankind’s natural instincts, hunger. He could not help himself if all he thought about was food. Jimmy’s father should have honored Villona’s intuition for Villona was already in his own view of things.”25 What he said in that excerpt was that it was more or less instinct that made Villona not pay attention. Any person on this planet would probably do the exact same thing Villona did. Hunger is a very hard feeling not too notice. When you are a man of Villona’s size of course hunger is going to encompass your thoughts. You can not think of anything but it.

Therefore, hunger was entrapping Villona and this was not the only time in the story. One of the final issues of entrapment comes from the card game. Joyce tells of this when he writes, “Play ran very high and paper began to pass. Jimmy did not know exactly who was winning but he knew that he was losing. But it was his own fault for he frequently mistook his cards and the other men had to calculate his I.O.U.’s for him. They were devils of fellow but he wished they would stop: it was getting late.”26 This passage shows that Jimmy was entrapped because he was unable to get out of the card game. He was losing so much money that he had to have the others keep track of it for him.

Vargas Llosa says, “He was entrapped by the greed of his friends. They did not want to stop until Jimmy and the American were both broke. In essence the friends were in face the ‘devils of fellow’ that Joyce claims them to be.”27 Vargas Llosa is right about his claim. It was hinted at earlier in the story that some of his friends were only friends with Jimmy because he was rich. This was the final push that lets the reader become aware of their intentions towards Jimmy.

The final and most important entrapment is the effect of alcohol on the characters. An example of needless drinking comes from Joyce when he writes, “They drank the health of the Queen of Hearts and of the Queen of Diamonds. Jimmy felt obscurely the lack on an audience: the wit was flashing.”28 Drinking to characters pictured on a deck of cards is ridiculous. They were enjoying themselves, but there was no need for drinking like that. The alcohol made the characters extremely unaware of what they were doing during the card game.

This lead to them not being able to keep track of money. This entrapment of alcohol hindered Jimmy, however, his friends gained from it because they took all of his money. Drinking might be a part of Irish culture, but it entraps the mind. So, in this sense the alcohol was the final entrapment that helps connect the story to the greater whole of the novel. Paralysis and death are very strong motif’s throughout Dubliners.

Many different characters are paralyzed in one way or another, whether it being literally or figuratively they are. In “After the Race” the paralysis comes in the form of alcohol because it rendered the characters vulnerable to each others greed. “After the Race” is also a story in which childhood freedoms are challenged by adult entrapments and that is why it is classified as being in the adolescence group. That is what adolescence is in a whole, childhood freedom versus adult entrapments. Joyce does a very good job in interconnecting these two ideas in the story.

He structured characters around this that at first seemed strong and self-motivated, but soon the reader comes to find out that they are in fact weak. “After the Race” is the perfect way to depict human adolescence because it is very on target.