Plot Summary?
We’re just getting started.

Add this title to our requested Study Guides list!
logo

Dubliners

James Joyce
Plot Summary

Dubliners

James Joyce

Fiction | Short Story Collection | Adult | Published in 1914

Plot Summary
Centering on the concept of epiphany, Irish writer James Joyce’s short-story collection Dubliners (1914) deals with contemporaneous Irish political and social issues. It is structured to mimic a human life, beginning with stories about childhood and progressing to stories that deal with adult concerns and finally old age and death.

In “The Sisters,” an unnamed young boy waits for Father Flynn, a local priest, to die after the man suffers his third stroke. The boy and the priest have become friends, and the boy is surprised to hear from his aunt and uncle’s annoying friend that the priest is considered peculiar. After Father Flynn’s death, the boy visits the priest’s sisters, who wonder what they will do with their lives now that they no longer have to care for him.

“An Encounter” features another young boy who tells about the forbidden detective and western stories he and his classmates smuggle to read in school despite the disapproval of the priests. Tired of pretend games and wanting a real adventure, the boy and his friend, Mahony, skip school and explore Dublin. They meet an old man in a field and find him interesting until his repeated references to corporal punishment sour their mood.



A teen boy in “Araby” has a crush on a local girl, the sister of his friend, Mangan. One day, she speaks to him, asking if he is going to the Araby Bazaar. He promises to bring her back a gift. The night of the bazaar, the narrator arrives at Araby as it is closing down. He goes to one stall still open but, feeling unwanted by the proprietor, angrily watches everything shut down, feeling hopeless.

“Eveline” is the main character of the story. Her mother has passed away, and her brothers have moved out, leaving her with her abusive father. She works at a job she despises. Eveline meets Frank and they begin an affair. Frank asks her to elope with him to South America. At the dock, she freezes, watching as Frank is swept away by a crowd, shouting, “Come!”

In “After the Race,” Jimmy, a well-off young man falls in with a group of international friends. Although Jimmy has money, his new friends are much wealthier, and he struggles to keep up. After losing a shocking amount of money at cards, Jimmy realizes that he is not on their level.



“Two Gallants” tells the story of Corley and Lenehan, two men in their thirties still living as if they were younger, working intermittently, and spending their time drinking and chasing women. Corley tells Lenehan that he is trying to convince a housemaid he has been romancing to steal for him; Lenehan becomes depressed, wondering if it would be better to grow up and settle down.

Bob Doran lives in Ms. Mooney’s boarding house in the story “The Boarding House.” Ms. Mooney is strict and intimidating. Doran has an affair with her daughter, Polly, who wishes her mother to intervene on her behalf. Ms. Mooney waits until the right moment to exert maximum pressure on Doran. Fearing humiliation if the affair is made public, Doran bows to pressure, agreeing to marry Polly.

In “A Little Cloud,” Little Chandler meets his old friend Gallaher, a journalist who lives an exciting life in London. Regretting his safe life—a good job, a loving family, a nice home—Chandler dreams of being a poet. When he gets home, however, he feels bad about his fantasy and is glad to be home.



“Counterparts” is the story of Farrington, a bitter middle-aged man who sneaks away from work every day to drink and is often reprimanded by his boss. One evening, he joins friends on a pub crawl, but the more he drinks the unhappier he becomes. When he arrives home, he beats his son on a pretext.

“Clay” tells the story of Maria, a middle-aged woman who works at a laundry. Maria has been invited to a party at the house of a man she nursed when he was small. She buys a cake to bring but forgets it on the tram. Disturbed by this omen, she attends anyway. During a party game, she is unnerved when she draws a lump of clay, a symbol of death.

In “A Painful Case,” Mr. Duffy, a bachelor, forms a strong friendship with an unhappily married woman, Mrs. Sinico. When she implies she would like a romantic relationship, he ends their friendship. Four years later, he learns of her swift decline into alcoholism and eventual death; he feels guilty for not being her friend.



The story “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” is about political volunteers who gather after a day of canvassing to discuss politics and Irish Nationalism. They are divided on issues and squabble until a poem about Charles Parnell brings them together for one brief moment.

Mrs. Kearny has arranged for her daughter to perform at a series of concerts in “A Mother.” When the concerts are canceled due to low interest, Mrs. Kearny overbearingly demands her daughter be paid as stipulated in the contract, ruining any chance of her daughter’s career going forward.

“Grace” tells the story of Tom Kernan, once a respected businessman who has become an alcoholic. When Kernan gets drunk and falls down some stairs, his friends gather to try to help him, going to a church service to pray for their old friend.



In “The Dead,” Gabriel Conroy and his wife travel to attend a party where Conroy is set to give a short speech. He has awkward and hostile interactions at the party, but the speech goes well. Later, his wife reveals that she had a lover before him; he questions his existence and the value of his life.

Continue your reading experience

SuperSummary Plot Summaries provide a quick, full synopsis of a text. But SuperSummary Study Guides — available only to subscribers — provide so much more!

Join now to access our Study Guides library, which offers chapter-by-chapter summaries and comprehensive analysis on more than 5,000 literary works from novels to nonfiction to poetry.

Subscribe

See for yourself. Check out our sample guides:

Subscribe

Plot Summary?
We’re just getting started.

Add this title to our requested Study Guides list!

A SuperSummary Plot Summary provides a quick, full synopsis of a text.

A SuperSummary Study Guide — a modern alternative to Sparknotes & CliffsNotes — provides so much more, including chapter-by-chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and important quotes.

See the difference for yourself. Check out this sample Study Guide: