The Dead James Joyce
“The Dead” is a short story by Irish writer James Joyce. It originally appeared as the final story in his collection Dubliners, published in 1914. Joyce described the story as an epiphany, where main character Gabriel Conroy comes to a flash of self-awareness, discovering that he does not really know his own wife.
The plot of the story takes place during the Morkan Sisters’ annual dinner-dance party, in January 1904. When Gabriel and his wife, Gretta, arrive at the party, he immediately makes a joke that is uncomfortable, demonstrating his social awkwardness. Gabriel attempts to give an after-dinner speech, where he demonstrates that he is both pretentious and pathetic.
Eventually, he insults his dance partner, Miss Ivors, to the point where she leaves the party early. Getting ready to leave the party himself, he sees a woman at the top of the stairs, failing at first to recognize his own wife. Aroused, he attempts to seduce his wife when they return to their room, but she responds by telling him she was nostalgic because of the music.
When pressed, Gretta tells him the story of when she was a young girl, in love with a boy named Michael Furey. Gretta was about to be sent to a convent, and Michael, although sick, secretly came to see her before she left. He died a week later.