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Looking at “The Sisters” by James Joyce

The story by James Joyce revolved around a little a boy as the narrator, and a priest, as the little boy’s assumed friend. It began with the description of how the boy would always pass by the priest’s house, and notice an unchanged dim glow. The priest was a dying man, and everyone simply waited, including the boy. When he was at home, just before supper, he heard his aunt talking to a man named Cotter about the odd things that surrounding the priest. He kept on saying that he had a theory, but he did not share. His sentences never ended as he took a puff from his pipe.

The boy’s uncle was around, and he was the one who shared to the boy that the priest passed away. His uncle then shared that the boy and the priest were actually close friends, above the idea that their relationship was that between a mentor and a student. The priest taught him about the scriptures and the different vestments used by the priest. Cotter then said that it was not a very good idea. Boys his age should be able to play and run free. He said more about how boys should behave to the point that the boy felt imposed on. That night, as he slept, he remembered some of the events he shared with the priest.

The boy remembered more of his time with the priest the following day, as he and his aunt went the house of the priest to mourn his passing. . Nannie and Eliza, the two sisters of the priest was there to greet them. They went to the priest’s body but the boy was not able to concentrate in prayer because he was distracted from what one of the sisters were saying, even the clothes she wore as she lead them in prayer. The priest’s lifeless form rested on the altar and within his linked hands was a chalice. How he looked likes and what he wore was also specifically described.

After viewing his corpse, the little group went to a room where they could carry on a conversation. Everyone was quiet until the other sister, Eliza, spoke first. They were drinking wine. They talked about he passed. It was peaceful. Another priest anointed him and was the one who prepared him for his time. They agreed that he was quite resigned about his death. Then they talked about how the days and weeks prior to his death showed a character that was unlike him. They said it began with him accidentally breaking a chalice once. Then they blamed the presence of the boy.

They only affirmed that there was a problem with him when they once found the priest in a confession box laughing to himself, fully awake. Diction In fiction, this element refers to how the flow and choice of words reveal the nature of a character. In the story, the lead character and initial narrator of the story is revealed as someone who is quite observant. He does not tell what happened, he described it. At the beginning of the story, he pointed out how the lights from the priest’s place would be different if he already passed away.

Everyone almost expected that he would pass soon. But it was this boy who would have noticed when he did when he passed by their house. The boy was also described to be rather innocent. Although what he shares as a narrator implies a lot of details about the priest, it seemed as if he is unable to take what he says as the readers would have. The author probably used this strategy to show a certain detachment of the boy from his surroundings. He tries to be honest with his emotions but he still lacks that level of understanding about the real world.

In the last scene wherein the two sisters of the priest and his aunt were talking about the death of the priest, he simply watched and tried to observe what they were talking about. When his aunt inquired something about she heard, the boy tried to listen through the silence that suddenly followed. But he heard nothing. He was oblivious to how the adults pertained to something else. This innocence in him hindered him from seeing more clearly through the ordeal of the priest’s life and death. The other character that was given flesh was the priest.

He did not speak, nor did he actually partake in the story. He was given life through the reminiscing boy. When the boy remembers him, a portion of his personally and nature is given. The words and other suggestion made by other characters also contributed to the whole of his being. They are dark implications regarding how he lived his life, and how he destroyed it by himself. There were suggestions of drugs and mental illnesses, as well as of a physical disease. On the other hand, his image of being a good teacher to the boy also implied that he lived a good Christian life.

However, James Joyce has been known as an anti-Catholic. He showed that the Catholic church can give a man intense pressure, especially a man who will fight for His name. With this, in the story, Joyce connoted that a man is driven out of his sanity and into his death because of this religion. The voice of the author regarding this issue was given clarity. Imagery This element of fiction, on the other hand, refers to how images imply certain issues by making one’s senses experience it through words. In the story, there was a lot of imagery involved in describing scenes.

Through the first paragraph of the story, there was imagery where the boy described how he thought about how the priest’s words were idle to his ears. The priest was telling the boy that he will not stay long in this world. To the boy, it was as if he was hearing something else entirely. It sounded unusual to his ears before his death came near. But as the priest’s death became imminent, the words brought a fear in him. The author described the incident by how he heard it, then and later. Another example of imagery in the story was when the boy imagined the priest who became a paralytic.

The way the author wrote that paragraph described how he felt about the priest through his experiences with the deceased. He described his soul being taken to a place where both the good and the bad have become intertwined. It implied that those experiences he had with the priest were bittersweet. Here, the author suggests that although the boy was considered as an innocent young man, it does not mean that he was that naive of what is going on with the priest. The author made use of imagery to present the scene not exactly the way it is. This means that in certain scenes, the choice of words is not to be taken literally.

An image portrayed may suggest hints that add to the mystery and dilemma in the story. Symbols Symbols are defined as an item or an action that represents far greater that itself. The item that made use of symbolism in the story is the chalice. According to the text, the problem of the priest began when he accidentally broke the chalice. In the course of the narrative, one could take that the chalice represents the faith of the priest to God. By breaking the chalice, it could be that the promises he made prior to becoming a priest have been broken as his resolve becomes weakened.

It showed that by losing a bit of his faith, his doubt in many things about his being a priest became his downfall of being a person. He lost his mind and his dignity. There were suggestions that he used drugs. Moreover, there were also implications in the story that he had sexual affairs. These problems lead to his mental breakdown. The priest is also a symbol. As mentioned earlier, Joyce is considered to be an anti-Catholic. So as one of his lead characters in the story, the priest is a poor example of a man of God. It is often expected that priests will forever firmly hold onto his faith.

But in the story, the priest was a broken man. His spirit cannot cope with his past sins. His body failed along with his mind. Joyce implied here that the Catholic faith can only be a burden to a man who thought had a firm belief. He implied that practices and rules under this faith does not help a man progress. There are negative outcomes. In the story, the perspective of the author regarding that matter was also depicted through the boy. This was when the other characters of the story was telling the readers that having the boy so close to the priest was a very bad idea. Tone

This element of fiction refers to the overall voice of the author regarding the topic. The story was written as part of a book that represented the life of the author during his time. With this in mind, one can say that the author gave a picture of how the image of priest and Catholicism did not promote progress in his time and place. Instead, it brought confusion and heartache. He showed through the story that he was against Catholicism, and justified his belief through the character of the priest.

Work Cited

Joyce, James. “The Sisters. ” The Literature Network. 2008. 9 May 2008 <http://www. online-literature. com/james_joyce/965/>.

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