28 pages 56 minutes read

James Joyce

Two Gallants

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1914

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Character Analysis


Lenehan is the story’s protagonist, and sections of the narrative are viewed from his perspective. The changes that the character undergoes gradually transform the meaning and significance of the narrative’s events. Lenehan’s function in the text also aligns with Joyce’s dualistic reliance on realism and modernism. The character represents a realistic figure who faces challenges related to his muddled ambitions. As an unambitious 31-year-old with a ruinous life, Lenehan lacks a coherent plan for his future and regrets the decisions that led him to his current state. At the same time, Lenehan’s lack of personal development symbolically reflects Ireland’s social, political, and cultural decline and stasis.

At the beginning of the story, Joyce describes Lenehan as “squat and ruddy” (1). While he wears youthful clothing—a yachting cap and white rubber shoes—his physical appearance suggests a much older man, as “his figure f[alls] into rotundity at the waist, his hair [i]s scant and grey and his face […] ha[s] a ravaged look” (2). Lenehan’s premature aging reflects his jaded outlook and cynical lifestyle. His physical position at the beginning of the story, when compared to Corley, indicates a stance of accepted subordination.