Dubliners

by: James Joyce

“A Painful Case”

Joyce’s choice of symbolic names in “A Painful Case” articulates the story’s somber subject of thwarted love and loneliness. Duffyderives from the Irish word for dark, suggesting the grim, solemn mood in which the story unfolds and Mr. Duffy lives. The suburb in which Mr. Duffy resides, Chapelizod, takes its name from the French, Chapel d’Iseult. Iseult is half of the famed set of lovers, Tristan and Iseult, whose doomed affair ranks as one of the most iconic love stories in literature and music. This name’s appearance in the story as Mr. Duffy’s home neighborhood, which he purposely chose in order to distance himself from Dublin’s hustle and bustle and which is the starting point for his daily routine, connects the unrequited love and death of Mrs. Sinico with Mr. Duffy’s restrained existence.