Dubliners

by: James Joyce

Ambition

Quotes Ambition
Jimmy had a respect for his father’s shrewdness in business matters and in this case it had been his father who first suggested the investment; money to be made in the motor business, pots of money.

Jimmy Doyle, the protagonist of “After the Race,” has inherited a modest wealth thanks to his father’s hard work as a butcher. Now Jimmy plans to achieve financial success of his own. He meets an extremely rich Frenchman, Ségouin, who plans to start an automobile business. The narrator here reveals that, in part due to his father’s past advice, Jimmy will invest in Ségouin’s company. Unfortunately, Jimmy has not inherited his father’s shrewdness, and his ambition to both be rich and seem rich leads him to behave recklessly while spending a celebratory night on the town with his friends. By the end of the night, Jimmy’s planned investment in the car business turns into I.O.U.s for gambling debts.

There was no doubt about it. If you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could do nothing in Dublin…. He wondered whether he could write a poem to express his idea. Perhaps Gallaher might be able to get it into some London paper for him.

In “A Little Cloud,” the protagonist, Little Chandler, compares his own life with that of his friend Gallaher’s as he goes to meet Gallaher for the first time in many years. When they were friends in Dublin, Gallaher associated with a wild set of friends and often found himself in trouble. Since going to London, Gallaher had become a successful journalist. Little Chandler, believing himself ultimately superior to his friend, feels sure he could be at least as successful as Gallaher. Here, Little Chandler’s long-buried literary ambitions resurface: Instead of being a “tawdry” journalist, he aspires to be a poet. The problem, he believes, lies in his location, placing the blame anywhere but on his own lack of initiative.

She sat amid the chilly circle of her accomplishments, waiting for some suitor to brave it and offer her a brilliant life. But the young men whom she met were ordinary and she gave them no encouragement.

In “A Mother,” the narrator describes Miss Devlin as occupying the center of her own narcissistic existence. She expects her talents and refined manner to lead to a brilliant marriage. Preoccupied with her own goals, she gives only superficial attention to the available suitors, who are found unequal to her high standards. After passing up these men and with the threat of being an old maid at hand, she ends up marrying Mr. Kearney, a bootmaker. Her marriage doesn’t match her ambition, but she makes the best of things by transferring her ambition to her daughter’s life. As readers later see, her high expectations will again doom her to failure.