Gabriel’s Use of his Class and Education During Difficult Situations in Joyce’s “The Dead”

One of Gabriel’s unfortunate mishaps in understanding in “The Dead”. Credit: Robert Berry

Gabriel Convoy is the epitome of the upper-middle class unionist in the early Irish 20th century – he’s well educated, has a stable job as a professor, and is married. It’s evident from the beginning of the story that Gabriel places a large emphasis on what others think of him. This often leads to him second-guessing his actions throughout the Morken’s dinner party. Although Gabriel is fairly calm and collected in his conversations with the party attendees throughout the night, there are three instances where he is unaware of the implications of his words and causes an unexpected response in the conversation. The first occurs with the caretaker’s daughter, Lily, the second with Miss Ivors, a party attendee, and the third with his wife Gretta Convoy.  In all three of the cases, Gabriel falls back on his background – his class and education – to change the conversation, all with differing results.

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