James Joyce: What is Woman?
"the pitiful vision of her mother's life laid its spell on the very quick of her being--that life
of common-place sacrifices closing in final craziness"
Points of Reflection
Salvador Dali's "The Spectre of Sex Appeal" (1934)
1. what is the sex of the painting's central figure, and what is that of the smaller figure in the foreground?
2. what two objects appear before and behind this smaller figure?
3. though some of the larger figure's limbs seem human, other elements of the figure resemble decidedly non-human objects. Can you identify these?
4. which appendages and other body parts are missing from this central figure?
5. some art critics have identified in the larger figure a dissected human who has been reassembled, while others see a tortured individual. What role do the crutches play in your own interpretation? Are they propping up a weak figure? Are they an integrated part of the figure, or add-ons? Are they necessary?
5. what layer of meaning does the painting's title apply to this work?
"Araby” (1905; 1914)
1. does the adult author of "Araby" limit himself to diction and concepts accessible to a young boy when describing his younger self's first love?
2. does the narrator's attraction to the girl next door contain a sexual component?
3. at what point does sordid reality begin to impinge on the dream world through which our young protagonist is floating?
4. how many different types of adversaries does the narrator encounter in his romantic quest to win a treasure for Mangan’s unnamed sister?
5. at what moment does the young boy's fantasy utterly shatter, and why? What does the young protagonist painfully discover about himself? About society?
6. what role does darkness play in the opening of the short story, and how has its function altered by the conclusion?
"Eveline" (1904, 1914)
1. what various ways might the reader interpret the line “few people passed” in the opening of this story?
2. why might the narrator refrain from giving us Eveline’s name within the story itself?
3. to what purpose does Joyce put disabilities in this story? Why might Joyce introduce the image of a crippled boy in the opening (36), and a dying, raving woman in the close (40)?
4. does Eveline’s prayer suggest she is open to God's leading, whatever that may be?
5. are we encouraged to trust Eveline’s sailor boyfriend, Frank, and to be as excited as she about the couple’s intended destination (Buenos Ayres)? Does Eveline make a prudent decision at the close of her story?
6. what does Eveline fear, and what desire? Which has the more powerful influence on her emotions? Which does she heed more, ultimately?
7. compare and contrast the narrative function of each the following figures, motifs, and literary devices as they appear in both “Araby” and “Eveline.”
8. "Derevaun Seraun" supposedly means, in demotic Irish, "the end of pleasure is pain" (Henke 63). Why place these particular words in the mouth of Eveline's mentally ill and dying mother?
"The Spectre of Sex Appeal" (1934)
Dr. Paul Marchbanks