Essay On James Joyce
’s The Dubliners Essay, Research Paper
Maria and Little Chandler are characters who have life goals, however, due to their inadequate personalities these goals are impossible. They are rather weak and helpless people which is only enhanced through their childlike appearances and mannerisms. Their inadequacy to deal with life is a major obstacle in achieving their goals: Maria s hidden goal being marriage/love and Little Chandler s goal being to become a successful poet. This infantile inadequacy is physically and openly displayed through their consistent feelings of shyness and timidity and through their reactions to marriage. The major difference between Little Chandler s inability to correctly deal with life and that of Maria is their outward action. Little Chandler shows through his mannerisms his inadequacy while Maria only shows hers through her mindset not making it public. Maria does not generally truly believe herself inadequate. However, through much of her behavior it seems that at times she does.
Maria and Little Chandler are very inadequate thereby not allowing themselves to achieve their full potential. This inadequacy is stressed throughout Clay and A Little Cloud and is emphasized by Maria s and Little Chandler s very childlike appearances and mannerisms. Maria is described as a very, very small person (Clay, pg. 87) as Little Chandler gave one the idea of being a little man. (Cloud, pg. 60) Little Chandler s frame was fragile…his voice was quiet…his hands were white and small (Cloud, pg. 60) and he had a row of childish white teeth (Cloud, pg. 60) also giving him an adolescent appearance. One also receives the impression of Little Chandler s childlike inadequacy as he enters the bar in which he meets Gallaher. The bar seemed to him to be full of people and he felt that the people were observing him curiously. (Cloud, pg. 64) Upon reading this statement, one pictures a small child walking into a room full of adults and consequently feeling somewhat inferior. The word seemed also stands out. The fact of whether or not the bar was actually full of people remains ambiguous leaving the only known fact to be that Little Chandler sees the bar as being full, once again stressing his inadequacy. This relates to Maria s ferreting her way quickly among the crowds (Clay, pg. 90) after exiting the tram and after arriving at Downes s cakeshop it was so full of people that it was a long time before she could get herself attended to. (Clay, pg. 90) The phrase she could get herself attended to implies some kind of effort on Maria s part to call attention to herself. This would suggest that the reason that she did not get attended to sooner was not solely that there were a lot of people in the cakeshop, but also that she is so small that she is lost among the crowd. Maria s size-deficiency is also stressed when she is on the tram when it was full and she had to sit on the little stool at the end of the car facing all the people. (Clay, pg. 89) A childlike image is projected into the mind of the reader after reading …on the little stool…facing all the people and is further stressed when it is brought to the attention of the reader that she sat with her toes barely touching the floor. (Clay, pg. 89) Joyce obviously wishes to stress Maria s smallness by placing Maria on a little stool and yet still have her toes barely touching the floor. However, although Joyce shows Maria to be insufficient for the outside world she does not generally see herself as such. She feels that she has a nice tidy little body (Clay, pg. 89) and she looks at herself with quaint affection. (Clay, pg. 89)
Other than their juvenile appearances and mannerisms, Maria and Little Chandler were also inadequate due to their timidity. Maria s shyness is shown through her encounter with the elderly gentleman on the tram. The gentleman began to chat with her (Clay, pg. 90) and as he did she favoured him with demure nods and hems. (Clay, pg. 90) The text gives no evidence that Maria have a conversation with the man on the train or even replied to the man s comments with the spoken English language. Rather, she simply gives him demure nods and hems. Demure is the key word in this phrase because it shows that even her nods and hems were modest, shy and reserved in manner: the definition of demure. Maria could not bring herself to actually speak to the man until she was leaving the tram at the Canal Bridge.
Little Chandler s shyness is one of his greatest obstacles. He feels that Gallaher was his inferior in birth and education (Cloud, pg. 69), and he was sure that he could do something better than his friend had ever done. (Cloud, pg. 69) However, something stood in his way: His unfortunate timidity! (Cloud, pg. 69) Little Chandler feels that he has the potential to be a great poet, but shyness had always held him back. (Cloud, pg. 61) Gallaher is a much more outgoing man than Little Chandler. Gallaher has …thousands of rich Germans and Jews rotten with money, that d only be too glad… (Cloud, pg. 70) due to his outgoing nature. Gallaher s success can be pinned upon this very nature. This is what Little Chandler lacks and why he gave one the idea of being a little man. (Cloud, pg. 60) Little Chandler needs to assert his manhood (Cloud, pg. 69), however, he cannot bring himself to do it. He is too reserved and too timid to be a successful poet, and, at times, even to be a successful human being in general. In the end, Little Chandler takes out his emotional repression upon his child. Following this incident, his cheeks suffused with shame…and tears of remorse started to his eyes (Cloud, pg.74) for he knew the error in his ways. This is very similar to Maria s feeling of shame and vexation and disappointment (Clay, pg. 91) after she loses the plumcake which she bought for Joe and his wife. Both characters show their emotional inadequacy through their self-shameful antics.
Joyce s final substantiation of the inadequacy of Maria and Little Chandler is shown through their reactions to marriage. Maria is a spinster. Her witchlike appearance, she had a very long nose and a very long chin, (Clay, pg. 87) and her voice which was talked a little through her nose (Clay, pg. 87) can be seen as her main hindrance from marriage. However, this is not the case. Unattractive people marry all the time. This would lead one to believe that Maria does not wish to get married. However, this also is not the case. Maria shows throughout the work that she has a secret desire to be married and to fall in love. During the meal at the laundry Lizzie Fleming tells Maria that she is sure to get the ring this year, symbolizing marriage, and Maria s reaction is her saying that she didn t want any ring or man either. (Clay, pg. 89) However, this is solely Maria s outward reaction. Inwardly Maria felt very differently: …when she laughed her greygreen eyes sparkled with disappointed shyness… (Clay, pg. 89) Maria s feeling of disappointed shyness gives the impression that truly she does want the ring and a man and she is very disappointed that she has not gotten married all of these past years. At the cakeshop on Henry Street, Joyce also illustrates this idea. The young lady behind the counter at the cakeshop asks Maria was it a weddingcake she wanted to buy. (Clay, pg. 90) This implication to marriage made Maria blush and smile at the young lady (Clay, pg. 90) showing Maria s true interest in the subject of marriage.
Contrarily, Little Chandler is married. However, like Maria, he is still shy about the concept of marriage and at times Joyce speaks of Little Chandler s child and his wife, Annie, as if they are disconnected from Little Chandler. Little Chandler s first reaction after Gallaher s mention of his marriage is to blush and smile. (Cloud, pg. 68) After Gallaher mentions Little
Chandler s child, Little Chandler blushed again. (Cloud, pg. 68) This shows Little Chandler s shyness and perhaps embarrassment toward the concept of his marriage. Joyce then goes on to separate Little Chandler from the rest of his family. In Little Chandler s home when Joyce mentions Little Chandler s baby he refers to Little Chandler s baby as the child (Cloud, pg.72-74) as opposed to Little Chandler s child or even simply his child. Joyce also does this with Annie. After the baby begins to cry hysterically for quite a while Annie comes back into the room. However, Joyce does not say Annie runs back into the room, but rather he says a young woman ran in (Cloud, pg. 73) creating the image that Little Chandler is only married legally and there is no real true connection between he and his family.
Maria and Little Chandler have unachievable goals due to their insufficient personalities. They are small people with many juvenile qualities which further hinder the achievement of their goals. Little Chandler wishes to be a successful poet, but cannot due to his timidity and shyness. Maria secretly wishes to marry, however, she also cannot due to her shyness. Maria s and Little Chandler s infantile inadequacy is physically and openly displayed through their consistent feelings of shyness and timidity and through their reactions to marriage. The major difference between Little Chandler s inability to correctly deal with life and that of Maria is their outward action. Little Chandler shows through his mannerisms his inadequacy while Maria only shows hers through her mindset not making it public. Maria does not generally truly believe herself inadequate. However, through much of her behavior it seems that at times she does.