Category Archives: James Joyce

I was blind to the blindness in Araby

I’ve been reading a book called Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark. I’m not ready “to review” it yet, but it made me aware of something that I missed in my review of James Joyce’s short story, Araby.

I missed the whole theme of blindness!

—Which, Roy Peter Clark assures me is a good thing. Well, sort of. Clark advises us to use symbols and not cymbals in our writing. Apparently Joyce was quite a master at this. Good to know as I contemplate reading Ulysses.

For a top-notch analysis of the blindness theme in Araby, visit

I would not even have delved into this except that Clark points out that Joyce was blind. (An Internet search says he was not completely blind.) I didn’t know any of this!

Missing blindness is kind of odd when I think about it. I’ve been struggling with my eyes lately and my eye doctor even told me that with the amount of reading I do, it’s normal for me to feel like I’m going blind. (oh yay)

The Dead

Just before Sunday service
Just before Sunday service (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By James Joyce, 35 pages.

This story took a good 20 pages to gain my interest, but the end was worth it. The story takes place on the night of the Misses Morkan’s annual dance, which is in the wintertime, I think between Christmas and New Year. The Misses Morkans are three elderly ladies who live in Dublin and have lots of friends and family.

Irish hospitality is praised highly in this work. The Irish scenes, social habits, and conversations reminded me of my own family a long long time ago in Texas.

In my last blog entry about James Joyce, I mentioned a couple of rules of storytelling. Here, I am reminded of yet another rule, which is when it snows, somebody dies—or died. Of course, the title foreshadows this as well. All through the story, I’m thinking: ok, who gets it?

I don’t really like this “rule” of storytelling. I adore snow, and I would like to find (or tell) a story that resists this rule.

The story’s tone and pacing change radically after the party is over when everyone is heading home. Our protagonist, Gabriel, who seems like a pretty good guy, but perhaps has a bit of an inferiority complex, is excited to finally be alone with his wife. The writing really picks up here, and for me becomes a real page turner.

Oddly, when I got to the last paragraph I realized I had already read it, the last paragraph, not the story. The paragraph was given as an example in one of my writing books. And indeed, it is a very nice paragraph. This is where writing truly becomes art.

Sad, sad love.