Dubliners

by: James Joyce

Farrington, from “Counterparts”

When he stood up he was tall and of great bulk. He had a hanging face, dark wine-colored, with fair eyebrows and moustache: his eyes bulged forward slightly and the whites of them were dirty.

The “Counterparts” narrator describes Farrington as a large, unhealthy, and unattractive person. His red skin in an otherwise Caucasian face and his jaundiced eyes indicate alcoholism. Farrington works as a law clerk, a job for which his huge size seems unnecessary. On first impression, he seems to be both physically and mentally unsuited for the position.

A spasm of rage gripped his throat for a few minutes and then passed, leaving after it a sharp sensation of thirst. The man recognized the sensation and felt he must have a good night’s drinking. The middle of the month was passed and, if he could get the copy done in time, Mr. Alleyne might give him an order on the cashier.

The narrator explains that, after being criticized at work, Farrington becomes infuriated, which in turn leaves him craving a drink. He anticipates being able to wash away his anger with alcohol that evening. However, to do so he will need an advance on his pay. He has already spent all of last month’s pay. Readers can easily infer he spent that money irresponsibly on drinks.

He felt strong enough to clear out the whole office single-handed. His body ached to do something, to rush out and revel in violence. All the indignities of his life enraged him . . . The barometer of his emotional nature was set for a spell of riot.

The narrator provides insight into Farrington’s mind after he’s criticized by his superiors. The imagery of weather suggest a force of nature exploding without reason on the world in general. To deal with his anger, his instinct tells him to direct his rage and blame outwards. At no point does he consider that the criticism he receives results from his own lack of production, compromised by having visited the pub already five times during the course of the day.

“So, I just looked at him—coolly, you know, and looked at her. Then I looked back at him again—taking my time, you know. ‘I don’t think that’s a fair question to put to me,’ says I.” Nosey Flynn was sitting up in his usual corner of Davey Byrne’s and, when he heard the story, he stood Farrington a half-one, saying it was as smart a thing as ever he heard. Farrington stood a drink in his turn.

To impress a woman at a pub, Farrington recalls a smart-aleck remark he made to his boss. In reality, he had to apologize abjectly for his words in order to keep his job. But out at the pub he aims to impress and amuse his fellow drinkers with the story. Here, all feels right in Farrington’s world and his work troubles can be forgotten—until tomorrow.

He watched her leave the room in the hope that she would look back at him, but he was disappointed. He cursed his want of money and cursed all the rounds he had stood, particularly all the whiskies and Apollinaris which he had stood to Weathers. If there was one thing he hated it was a sponge. He was so angry that he lost count of the conversation of his friends.

While out drinking, Farrington spots an attractive woman and hopes she notices him too. But because he has already spent most of his money, he can’t offer her a drink, and the opportunity to spend time with her vanishes—assuming such a moment ever existed. As usual, Farrington blames the missed opportunity on others and spends time wallowing in his own anger. However, the large number of drinks consumed may explain why he lost the thread of his friends’ conversation.

When Paddy Leonard said ”Go!”each was to try to bring down the other’s hand on to the table. Farrington looked very serious and determined. The trial began. After about thirty seconds Weathers brought his opponent’s hand slowly down on to the table. Farrington’s dark wine-colored face flushed darker still with anger and humiliation at having been defeated by such a stripling.

The narrator describes the arm-wrestling match between Farrington and Weathers, an acrobat. Despite his large size, Farrington loses to Weathers and feels both shock and embarrassment from the loss. This failure marks the second disappointment in Farrington’s night of pub crawling. The evening that Farrington dreamt about at work doesn’t turn out to be as fun as he anticipated.

The man jumped up furiously and pointed to the fire. “On that fire! You let the fire out! By God, I’ll teach you to do that again!” He took a step to the door and seized the walking-stick which was standing behind it. “I’ll teach you to let the fire out!” he said, rolling up his sleeve in order to give his arm free play.

Upon returning home from a disappointing night of drinking, Farrington, consumed with self-pity, takes his anger out on an innocent person—his son. Here, he rages at his son for allowing the fire to go out. His words and actions imply that violence will accompany his words. Farrington once again fails to realize his role in his life’s misery and instead chooses to take out his anger on anyone but himself. The fact that he feels justified in beating a child points up his reprobate character.