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James Joyce: Love Lost

"Mr Duffy abhorred anything which betokened
physical or mental disorder" (108).
"A Painful Case" (1914)


Points of Reflection

Salvador Dali's "Unsatisfied Desires" (1928)

1. do each of this painting's central, amorphous shapes appear to resemble one sex or the other? Can you discern any identifiable objects or body parts within these two pink objects?

2. Dalí employed seashells and cardboard in addition to oils when creating this painting; why might he have wanted the extra texturing and dimensionality provided by these materials?

3. what do you make of the line of space running vertically downwards away from each of these two objects?

4. is the flying, red object a bird or something else? Is it approaching the objects, or departing? Are the two strands hanging down from it orienting towards one of the objects, or both?


"Clay" (1904; 1914)

1. this enigmatic tale has provided critics with an endless store of interpretive possibilities. Read very closely, watching for seemingly irrelevant details including:

2. where does Maria work now, and what profession occupied her before?

3. why might the narrator use the possessive case when describing Maria’s room and possessions, then switch to the objective case when describing her body (101)?

4. what revelations do the following, seemingly negligible, passages reveal about our characters?

5. is Maria the "peace-maker" she is labeled by others?

6. how well does Maria know herself?

7. why do the neighborhood girls put clay on one of the saucers during the blindfolding game, and what might it symbolize once in Maria’s possession?


“A Painful Case” (1905; 1914)

1. why does James Duffy’s consciously regulate both his living quarters and daily routine (107-109)?

2. why has James Duffy not married prior to the events of this story?

3. why is the size of Mrs. Emily Sineco’s bosom mentioned (110)?

4. why does he pursue intimacy with Mrs. Sinico--what is his endgame?

5. does their relationship become an "affair" prior to its end?

6. what motivates Mr. Duffy's intentional rupture with his friend?

7. who originates the flowery language infused into the narrative description of James’ and Emily’s deepening intimacy (111)? Does it belong to the narrator, or to James himself?

8. by the conclusion of the novel, has James Duffy either lost or gained the reader's sympathy?

9. why does Joyce suggest that James’ “moral” nature is falling to pieces in the story’s close, and describe him as “gnaw[ing] the rectitude of his life” (117, my italics)?




"Unsatisfied Desires" (1928)
Salvador Dalí



Dr. Paul Marchbanks
pmarchba@calpoly.edu