COMMENTO: Dubliners di James Joyce – A Little Cloud, A Mother
Benvenuti al terzo appuntamento con Dubliners! Oggi vi parlerò di A Little Cloud e di A Mother, racconti appartenenti rispettivamente alla terza e quarta parte della collezione, cioè l’età adulta e la vita pubblica.
A LITTLE CLOUD
A Little Cloud is one of the most fascinating stories from Dubliners. From my point of view Gallaher is a very interesting character: at first he simply seems an arrogant man, but actually there is much more to discover in order to really understand him. The real Gallaher is not the man who returns to Dublin after some years, as Little Cloud says this is not the Gallaher he used to know. However, I don’t think Gallaher has really changed and has really become a boaster, this is just a mask he wears because he doesn’t want to show who he actually is, that is to say a failure. Gallaher pretends to be rich, powerful and happy, whereas he’s actually sad and broken. He shows off his “accomplishments” on purpose because he wants to underline his high social position, his important job and his richness.
He behaves like that to cover up all the mistakes he has made and his dissatisfaction. He presents himself as an haughty, arrogant man who enjoys drinking and having fun, but this is not the real himself, it’s just a character he’s trying to create. Maybe he hasn’t understood his wretchedness yet and he’s unconsciously living a big lie, or maybe he knows to be a loser and he’s just pretending to be someone else. Gallaher’s trick works and everyone sees him as he wants to be seen. Nevertheless, by acting in this way, he’s losing and destroying himself.
As everyone else, Little Chandler believes Gallaher’s trick. Even if he suspects there’s something wrong about him, he can’t stop being jealous. He would like to be a powerful man as his friend, he wants to be free and to have the possibility to travel around the world. At the beginning Little Chandler seems to be an ambitious but kind man with a good heart, instead after speaking with Gallaher his behavior changes, he becomes more arrogant and peevish, as if he has understood that life is unfair and that being successful requires more hostility and selfishness. I think that in this story Joyce shows how everybody is corrupted by life: Gallaher is rotten because of his life in high society and now he has corrupted Little Chandler, too.
Mrs. Kearney could be considered a negative character because she’s very bossy and strict and – by behaving in this way – she ends up being despised by everybody, especially by her own daughter Kathleen. However, I don’t agree with this idea; on the contrary from my point of view Mrs. Kearney is a quite positive character, because she’s different from the other women of her times, she has the courage to stand up for herself and for her rights. Today it may be normal for us, as women, to quarrel with men, but we must remember that at the time it wasn’t: women lived in a patriarchal society dominated by the strong influence of the Catholic Church, they were considered inferior and most of the times their only duties were to be good mothers and good wives who had to respect their husbands. They were forced to live in a misogynist world and for this reason emancipation for them was extremely hard.
While I was reading this story, I was impressed by the relationship between Mrs. and Mr. Kearney, because when we read stories from the past most of the times the husband plays the lead role, whereas his wife is subjected to him. Instead, in A Mother it’s Mrs. Kearney who has the power to take decisions, whereas her husband is presented as a quiet and passive man who always agrees with her. Mr. Kearney doesn’t want to impose himself over his wife, instead he respects her and supports her, when she needs someone to rely on he’s always there for her. So I would say I really appreciated this dynamic between the two of them.
I think one of the most significant moments in this story is when Mr. Holohan and Mr. Fitzpatrick say that Mrs. Kearney isn’t behaving like a lady, like a woman should do: as I was saying before, people used to identify a good woman with a humble, passive figure who always had to keep a low profile and do what men around her ordered to do. For this reason I believe Mrs. Kearney should be considered a model, she had the strength to do what she thought to be right, without letting Mr. Holohan and Mr. Fitzaptrick mistreat her.
I was pretty shocked when I read that Miss Beirne agreed with Mr. Holohan and Mr. Fitzpatrick, instead of supporting Mrs. Kearney. Her behavior shows how deeply the patriarchal culture was rooted and how paralyzed the Irish community was: even women considered a woman who tried to impose herself a negative figure.
Mrs. Kearney is despised by everybody because she’s quite eccentric and “noisy”, in fact she doesn’t let Mr. Holohan and Mr. Fitzpatrick go until she gets their attention and due to her behavior the concert starts late.
Furthermore someone criticizes her bossy behavior towards her daughter: Mrs. Kearney doesn’t realize that Kathleen doesn’t care about the money and the only thing she really wants is to play and have fun. I understand Mrs. Kearney made a mistake by not listening to her daughter, but at the same time I think she did the right thing, because if she had let her daughter play the piano she would have agreed with being mistreated and disrespected by Mr. Holohan and Mr. Fitzaptrick.
So, to sum up, I would say that I totally support Mrs. Kearney; maybe she made some mistakes, but she has always been true to herself.
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