James Joyce Short Stories

James Joyce didn’t write a lot of short stories, but the ones we have are exceptional. I hope you enjoy them as I did.

All the stories on this page can be read here in Dubliners. Simply select the title in the table of contents.

“The Sisters”

Father Flynn has had his third stroke and is paralyzed. A boy walks by his home each night looking at the light in the window. It’s even and faint—not the reflection of candles that would indicate he had died. When he goes down for supper, his uncle and aunt are talking to a visitor, Mr. Cotter. He thinks there was something unusual about Father Flynn, but doesn’t get specific about it. The boy’s uncle breaks the news that the priest has died.

This story can also be read in the preview of Dubliners(10% in)

“An Encounter”

Three boys who want some adventure plan to skip school for a day. The next morning, the narrator and Mahony meet on the bridge, but Dillon doesn’t show up. They set out, visit many of the spots in the area, and eventually get a snack. They lie in a field for a while. An older man tapping the ground with a stick slowly makes his way toward them.

This story can also be read in the above preview of Dubliners(48% in)

“Araby”

Every morning, a boy looks through an opening in the blinds at the door where his friend Mangan lives. The boy can’t stop thinking about Mangan’s older sister. When she leaves her house, he follows her as long as he can. When she finally speaks to him, he can hardly answer. She asks if he’s going to the bazaar; she would like to go but can’t. He says he will bring something back for her.

“Eveline”

Eveline, a woman of nineteen, sits looking out her window, thinking of her childhood. Everything has changed—everyone is grown up, some have moved away, and her mother and one of her brothers have died. She doesn’t have a strong connection to her work or to her father, who’s been getting increasingly threatening. She’s going to leave with Frank, a young sailor, and live in Buenos Aires. It’s almost time to go.

“After the Race”

Doyle, an Irishman, rides toward Dublin in Ségouin’s car, along with Rivière and Villona, after a successful race. His companions are French and Hungarian. Doyle and Ségouin met at Cambridge. Ségouin is worldly and wealthy, and Doyle is pleased to know such a man and to be seen with him. He plans on investing some money with him. Doyle and Villona are dropped off to get dressed for supper.

“Two Gallants”

Lenehan and Corley are out walking and talking. Corley talks about how he picked up a woman one night, a maid who works in Baggot Street. She brings him little gifts when they meet. Corley’s going to meet up with her soon. Lenehan asks if she’ll be able to pull off the plan Corley has in mind. Corley’s confident he’ll be able to persuade her.

“The Boarding House”

Mrs. Mooney runs a boardinghouse with a clientele predominantly made up of tourists, artistes and city clerks. Her husband ruined his butcher business and is gone now. Her daughter, Polly, a girl of nineteen, does the housework and flirts with the young men. Mrs. Mooney monitors the interactions. One day she notices a change between her daughter and a boarder, Mr. Doran, and Mrs. Mooney knows it’s time to intervene.

“A Little Cloud”

Little Chandler’s friend, Gallaher, is coming for a visit. He left eight years ago for London where he’s had success as a journalist. Chandler is excited to see his old friend, and it makes him think of his own desire to write poetry. They meet in an upscale bar where Chandler wouldn’t normally go. They talk about their respective lives, and Chandler can’t help but feel inferior to his successful and well-traveled friend.

“Counterparts”

Farrington is called to Mr. Alleyne’s office and reproved for not completing a copy of an important contract yet. Mr. Alleyne also tells him to watch the length of his lunch breaks, and threatens to speak to Mr. Crosbie if things don’t improve. Farrington is ordered back to work, but instead, he slips out for a drink. When he returns his work seems overwhelming, and all he can think about is leaving for another drink. He struggles to finish up on time.

“Clay”

Maria works at a rescue mission for women and is known as a peace-maker for her ability to keep things running smoothly, and is well-liked. She’s looking forward to an evening visit with Joe, whom she nursed as a child, and his family. She first stops to buy some cake for the gathering, then takes the tram where she talks a little with an elderly gentleman who’s had a bit to drink.

“A Painful Case”

Mr. Duffy is an orderly man who lives in an isolated Dublin suburb. He’s a cashier at a bank, and he keeps a regular routine for meals and hobbies. One night while attending a concert he engages in some conversation with two women, a mother, and a daughter who’s about his age. He runs into them at two other events and becomes friends with the mother, Mrs. Sinico. Her husband doesn’t object to their friendship, believing that Mr. Duffy must be interested in their daughter.

“Ivy Day in the Committee Room”

Tierney is a candidate in a local election. There’s conversation in the committee room among his canvassers—O’Connor, Hynes and Henchy—about life, a rival candidate, and whether they’ve been paid. They also talk about Charles Stewart Parnell, a noted Irish nationalist.

“A Mother”

Mr. Hollohan is arranging a series of concerts for an Irish cultural society. Mrs. Kearney, educated and with a music background, has a daughter, Kathleen, who has also learned music. Mr. Hollohan approaches Mrs. Kearney and proposes that Kathleen be the accompanist at four upcoming concerts. They reach an agreement, and Mrs. Kearney gets heavily involved in organizing the events. They experience a setback when the first concert is poorly attended.

“Grace”

A man falls down the stairs at a pub and is unconscious. Some patrons carry him up the stairs and place him on the floor. They try to revive and identify him. A constable arrives to sort everything out, and everyone says what they know. He eventually comes around and makes light of the accident. A patron, Mr. Power, knows the man—Tom—and volunteers to see him home, which satisfies the constable. Tom’s drinking has been a problem for some time.

“The Dead”

It’s time for the annual dance hosted by the elderly Morkan sisters, Miss Kate and Miss Julia. They invite everyone they know—family, old friends and acquaintances—and it’s always a success. The hostesses anticipate the arrival of their nephew Gabriel and his wife, Gretta. Gabriel is going to give a speech after dinner. They’re a bit worried about Mr. Malins, who’s known for drinking too much. Gabriel has some off-balancing social interactions, and a song moves Gretta to reminisce.