26 pages 52 minutes read

James Joyce

The Dead

Fiction | Novella | Adult | Published in 1914

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Important Quotes

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“They forget that my wife here takes three mortal hours to dress herself.”

(Page 375)

Gabriel makes a wry comment to his aunts about his wife’s tendency to take a long time to ready herself. His comment, however, hints at the extent to which people hardly know one another. Gabriel knows his wife better than most but has to tell people about her bad habits. In turn, he does not know about her past with Michael Furey. His comment hints that he knows his wife better than anyone but foreshadows his realization that he hardly knows her at all.

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“He was undecided about the lines from Robert Browning, for he feared they would be above the heads of his hearers.”

(Page 377)

Gabriel frets about his speech, and the nature of his anxiety provides insight into his character. He is concerned that his literary references will not be understood by his audience, suggesting that he tends toward arrogance and adopts a patronizing nature rather than rewrite his speech. Gabriel never considers changing his words. Instead, he just worries that his words will not be understood. Adapting to the circumstances never crosses his mind.

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“Freddy Malins exploded, before he had well reached the climax of his story, in a kink of high-pitched bronchitic laughter.”

(Page 382)

Freddy’s bawdy laughter cuts across the room and dominates the party. Amid his laughter, however, is a hint of tragedy. The sound of his laugh is boisterous and humorous but also “bronchitic” (382), suggesting that Freddy has bronchitis or some other breathing condition.