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Clay - Dubliners

Clay - Dubliners - Rena Sha Clay James Joyces Dubliners...

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Rena Sha “Clay” James Joyce’s Dubliners includes a wide spectrum of short stories that explore a variety of themes and issues pertaining to Irish society at large. Of these “Clay” is probably unique in the sense that it addresses the problems of the individual more than of the society as a whole, taking the utmost care in creating realistic literary figures. In “Clay” Joyce uses a close third person narrative to successfully characterize two aspects of the protagonist Maria; how she views herself and how society views her. It is evident that although Maria is much loved, her naivety and life style choices keep her snugly ensconced in her own little world; she is protected from society’s intolerance but at the same time distanced from a caring community. Although Maria is well liked in her workplace, she is segregated from the community by her naivety; this protects and alienates her from society. This complex relationship is depicted through the piece’s third person narrative which fluctuates between objectivity and close thought exposure of the character. An objective tone is used to describe how “Everyone was so fond of Maria.” (p100), stating that Maria was indeed adored by her coworkers. The same tone is taken while describing Maria’s physical characteristics, “she had a very long nose and a very long chin” (p99) and “laughed again till the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of her chin” (p101). These phrases pertaining to Maria’s outward appearance are similar to those seen in children’s fairy tales and enhance Maria’s naïve quality, giving her the image of a witch. This is exemplified by Joyce’s use of repetition for the latter quote, a technique applied frequently in children’s lore. These serve as the basic information the reader has to build upon, in the next few paragraphs the narrative is comparable to Maria’s thought stream; it is heavily reliant on Maria’s
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perspective and therefore reading between the lines is crucial for a comprehensive understanding. The most prominent indication of Maria’s incongruence is that she is a Catholic
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