Dubliners is a collection of vignettes of Dublin life at the end of the 19th Century written, by Joyce’s own admission, in a manner that captures some of the unhappiest moments of life. Some of the dominant themes include lost innocence, missed opportunities and an inability to escape one’s circumstances.
Joyce’s intention in writing Dubliners, in his own words, was to write a chapter of the moral history of his country, and he chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to him to be the centre of paralysis. He tried to present the stories under four different aspects: childhood, adolescence, maturity and public life.
‘The Sisters’, ‘An Encounter’ and ‘Araby’ are stories from childhood. ‘Eveline’, ‘After the Race’, ‘Two Gallants’ and ‘The Boarding House’ are stories from adolescence. ‘A Little Cloud’, ‘Counterparts’, ‘Clay’ and ‘A Painful Case’ are all stories concerned with mature life. Stories from public life are ‘Ivy Day in the Committee Room’ and ‘A Mother and Grace’. ‘The Dead’ is the last story in the collection and probably Joyce’s greatest. It stands alone and, as the title would indicate, is concerned with death.