James Joyce


The Dead


 Dubliners Online


The Dead

"One by one, we are all becoming shades."


In groups of two or three, write answers to the following questions:
For help, see the list of related links below.

  1. What is the setting: time, place, exact place, and occasion?

  2. Describe each of the following characters, giving their relationships to one another and main qualities: Aunt Kate, Aunt Julia, Lily, Gabriel, Gretta, and Miss Ivors.

  3. Joyce spends a great deal of time and energy on the party and its guests. Discuss the party in several ways: 1. Comment on the imagery and verisimilitude of the scene. 2. Discuss the interplay between the guests. What are some of the main topics/ideas here? 3. Discuss Gabriel's speech. What's he talking about?

  4. What is the tone at the beginning of the story? How is it created? Give specific words, lines etc. What is the tone at the end of the story? Where and why does it change?

  5. If conflict is two forces in opposition, does Gabriel experience a conflict? What does he want and what/who is keeping him from getting it? Is this an internal or external conflict (or both)?

  6. Is Gabriel a developing character? What does he learn? Joyce would call Gabriel's moment of recognition an epiphany. Reword your answer to be universal and to serve as a theme for the story.

  7. Was Lily raped or used for ill by a man? Support your answer. What has the inclusion of Lily's troubles got to do with the rest of the story? Also, think about what Lily's name might mean symbolically.

  8. What part does Gabriel's interaction with Lily, early in the story, play in the development of theme?

  9. The story of Michael Furey seems to be the climax of the story. Do you agree or disagree? Explain. (You need to connect to the main conflict: see Gabriel's conflict).

  10. The last paragraph of the story is one of the most famous passages in all of English literature. What is Joyce saying?


  • palaver

  • Quadrilles

  • goloshes

  • wizen-faced, wizened

  • swarthy

  • wane

  • quay

  • blancmange

  • lugubrious

  • heliotrope

  • ludicrous

  • impalpable

  • vindictive


  • country vs continent
  • simple vs sophisticated
  • carpe diem

Related Links

Online version

Notes/References/Allusions by Wallace Gray

Gray's annotated text

Politics of Ireland in The Dead

Biography of the author




Araby (see this page for clarification of Joyce's term: epiphany)



[Back to Short Fiction Unit Plans] [Back to AP Main]