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Free Book Summary-Dubliners by James Joyce-Study Guide/Synopsis
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Jimmy has very little character and is exposed as a creation of his father’s wealth and desire for advancement. In spite of his many advantages he is a ‘hanger-on’ and an immature person. For the pleasure of being ‘seen in the company of these Continentals’, he pays by being caught up in a circle of drinking and gambling he can’t handle and loses a fortune. Only with daybreak, do reason and a painful awareness come.

That Jimmy has another side is shown by his love of music and his friendship with Villona. But this is negated by his powerful attraction towards "the Continent."

In this story, Joyce deals with another Irish problem of the time- the feeling of being a colonial, of living in a ‘backwater’ and looking towards Europe as the cultural mainstream. He also shows how the rich Irish instead of leading their country preferred to climb onto the English or European band wagon.

Doyle Senior

A shrewd, self-made businessman, he is tough and hard working. His weakness is the desire of acceptance in ‘refined society.’ He grooms his son with this purpose and is proud of his extravagance. He had been a Nationalist in his youth, but with increasing wealth, he has become close to the colonial rulers in line with his business interests.


The polished son of a rich French business family, he is all that Jimmy would like to be. He dabbles in car races and behaves like a playboy, but it is all in line with his motorcar business. His acquaintance with Jimmy leads to fresh investment in his business, but he accepts it as if doing the Doyles a favor. He drinks hard, plays hard and takes full advantage of Jimmy’s folly. His smooth handling of the dinner party displays his social skills and maturity.


A brilliant musician, Villona is a Hungarian friend of Jimmy Doyle. Unlike Jimmy he has no desire to become part of Segouin’s circle. So he enjoys the company and good food but avoids the gambling and drinking. Villona has a clear-cut identity, which emerges during his discussion on English music with another guest. He does not lose his bearings as Jimmy and it is apt that he is the one to announce daybreak to the merry makers.


The story begins with a scene of excitement and celebration at the end of the race. Joyce strikes a sour note by pointing at the passive attitude of the "gratefully oppressed" and Jimmy’s childish glee at being associated with the glamorous visitors. He then moves on to Jimmy’s background and the connection between him and Segouin. Finally all the outlined tendencies are dramatized at the superbly drawn dinner party scene ending with Villona’s sharp wake up call.


Joyce depicts the opportunism of the Irish business class, hanging onto the coat-tails of foreign business ever willing to compromise and unconcerned about its own country’s economic state. Through Jimmy he shows how such people will always be manipulated by foreign big business for its own profit.



The car race brings a number of European visitors to Dublin, and the cars are used by Joyce as symbols of the "wealth and industry" of the continent, passing through the Dublin "channel of poverty and inaction." Their speed and power stand for the economic progress of mainland Europe, while Ireland is shown to be a backward colony.

The darkness of the night represents a deceptive glamour when "the city wore the mask of a capital." This darkness is the illusion which clouds Jimmy’s mind, and awareness comes only with daybreak.

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Dubliners by James Joyce-Free Online Book Notes Study Guide/Synopsis


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