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The Dead
James Joyce
The Dead
James Joyce

The Dead

James Joyce

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“The Dead” is the final short story in the 1914 collection Dubliners by James Joyce. It is the longest story in the collection. The action takes place in Dublin in 1904 at an Epiphany party held by two elderly sisters. The story focuses attention on the academic Gabriel Conroy and his discovery of his wife Gretta's memory of a deceased lover.
Q54 printed pages
Modern Fiction
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has quotedu4 months

Gabriel had not gone to the door with the others. He was in a dark part of the hall gazing up the staircase. A woman was standing near the top of the first flight, in the shadow also. He could not see her face but he could see the terracotta and salmon-pink panels of her skirt which the shadow made appear black and white. It was his wife. She was leaning on the banisters, listening to something. Gabriel was surprised at her stillness and strained his ear to listen also. But he could hear little save the noise of laughter and dispute on the front steps, a few chords struck on the piano and a few notes of a man’s voice singing. He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air that the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something. He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of. If he were a painter he would paint her in that attitude. Her blue felt hat would show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the dark panels of her skirt would show off the light ones. Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter. The hall-door was closed, and Aunt Kate, Aunt Julia and Mary Jane came down the hall, still laughing. —Well, isn’t Freddy terrible? said Mary Jane. He’s really terrible. Gabriel said nothing but pointed up the stairs towards where his wife was standing. Now that the hall-door was closed the voice and the piano could be heard more clearly. Gabriel held up his hand for them to be silent. The song seemed to be in the old Irish tonality and the singer seemed uncertain both of his words and of his voice. The voice, made plaintive by distance and by the singer’s hoarseness, faintly illuminated the cadence of the air with words expressing grief: O, the rain falls on my heavy locks And the dew wets my skin, My babe lies cold… —O, exclaimed Mary Jane. It’s Bartell D’Arcy singing, and h

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