Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Joyce brings the reader’s attention to everyday objects throughout his stories. Discuss some examples and explain the significance of Joyce’s use of them in the collection.
2. In the first three stories of Dubliners, Joyce uses first-person narration, though for the rest of the collection he uses third-person. What purpose do the two narrative approaches serve?
3. Discuss the role of story titles in the collection. How does a given title interact with its story and with the titles of other stories? What is the significance of the collection’s title?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Of the fifteen stories in Dubliners, Joyce focuses on women as protagonists in only four stories, but women appear throughout the collection in various small roles, often in relation to male protagonists. What is the symbolic role of these latter women? Consider particular stories as well as the collection as a whole.
2. As the title implies, Dubliners examines the lives of people in Ireland’s capital, and Joyce provides ample geographical details. Since not all readers are familiar with Dublin, such details can be unfamiliar. What purpose, then, do these elements serve?
3. Consider the number of deaths, both literal and metaphorical, that occur or are referred to in Dubliners. Which stories connect through the presence of death, and why is this connection significant?
4. Do any stories contain moments in which Joyce’s authorial voice and point-of-view seem to speak through the narrators? Use the text to show how this occurs and what Joyce expresses.
5. Some stories include a full version of a text cited internally by a character. For example, in “A Painful Case” the reader can examine the article about Mrs. Sinico’s death that Mr. Duffy finds, and in “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” the reader can review Hynes’s poem about Parnell. What sort of relationship between reader and story do such forms create? What might be Joyce’s aim in cultivating this relationship?