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James Joyce


Summary “Counterparts”

The abuse that other stories in Dubliners allude to becomes explicit in “Counterparts,” and the consistent emotional theme of anger underpins every event in the story. Joyce uses adjectives like heavy, dark, and dirty to describe Farrington—he is quite literally worn out by frustration and anger. Not even the desperate servitude and piety of his son touch him, signaling that spirituality fails to save and protect. Farrington is unable to realize that his own actions are far worse than the mocking cruelty of his boss. Joyce refers to Farrington both by his name and as “the man” throughout the story. In one sentence he is the familiar character of Farrington that the reader follows throughout the story, yet in another he is “the man” on the street, on the train, in an office. Farrington, in a sense, acts as an exchangeable or general type, both a specific man and everyman. Joyce’s fluid way of addressing him thus serves to weave Farrington into the Dublin streetscape and suggest that his brutality is nothing unusual.