James Joyce was an Irish author that sought to reveal the real situation in his country. Through his book Dubliners he wanted to show the Irish society and its main problem- the paralysis of all individuals. Joyce chose this theme in order to prove that Dublin’s citizens, no matter whether they are young or old, high or low class, they are all united under the characteristics of being incapable in changing their lives and following their dreams till the end.
The stories included in Dubliners show all aspects of standstill among the society. Joyce used characters with different positions in life, so that he could make all citizens realized that their everyday problems and dilemmas are exactly the ones represented in the short stories. The piece of writing “Araby” has the purpose to reveal paralysis among children. The main character, a young boy, is highly attracted by a woman, so that he decides to go to the bazaar in Araby in order to buy her a present. When the boy arrives there he understands that he would look funny and foolish in the eyes of his love that was not familiar with his feelings. His words “I knew my stay was useless,…., then I turned away slowly and walked down,” (p.35) reveal the lack of the character’s ability to be brave and show his attraction. This end of the story is used in order to introduce the boy’s last decision as his standstill, because the young gentleman is afraid of taking the next step, so he stays paralyzed.
The Irish author succeeds to express the theme of standstill among Dubliners not only through children, but as well through people from all ages. In his story “After the Race”, he represents Jimmy, the main character that loses his money in a cards game. Jimmy is young and has his money from his father, so somehow he does not really knows how difficult is to amass wealth. He used to spend it in car races, but now it is all gone. The revealing of the character’s thoughts “He knew that he would regret it in the morning, but at present he was glad of the rest, glad of the dark, stupor that would cover up his folly” (p.48) proves the theme of paralysis through the fact that he lives for the moment and does not want to do anything in order to change his waste of the wealth. Even though Jimmy soberly realizes that there will be consequences in the morning, still he prefers to enjoy the night and not to worry about tomorrow. This way of thinking effectively reveals the character’s standstill and lack of desire to change the situation in order to make his future better, so as a result he accepts to live with the idea to leave the things the way they are.
In opposition to most of his stories, where there is no gradation in the character, Joyce used his trial story to reveal that some of the Dubliners dare to analyze their life and think over it. “The Dead” is a piece of writing where Gabriel, the main character, at the beginning is presented as someone that exists just for pleasure and not for reaching soul enrichment. Later on, when he finds out about his wife’s ex-lover who died for her, Gabriel starts speculating on his aimless life where he did not show any bravery to prove himself as a worthy person. The character realized that just existing without a purpose and without a person to share excitement with is a pointless life. Then Gabriel finds out he is a shadow because his being could be equal to death. The snow at the end of the story symbolizes how it covers and hides all these people in Dublin that did not reach any deep soul development, they were just living their simple boring every-day routine. “The Dead” reveals the paralysis of Gabriel who understands that it is too late to change his life, so that he will not even try too, but on the other hand the main character at least realizes the present standstill and spends time thinking over it.
Dubliners is a book which James Joyce wrote in order to represent all these problems of the Irish society of not being capable to go through the next step of changing their life, so they prefer just to be some paralyzed individuals. The author’s writing effectively shows the standstill as a main theme building his stories and as well he succeeds to reveal the readers the real situation in Ireland.