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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

He thought that in her eyes he would ascend to an angelical stature; and, as he attached the fervent nature of his companion more and more closely to him, he heard the strange impersonal voice which he recognized as his own, insisting on the soul's incurable loneliness. We cannot give ourselves, it said: we are our own. (A Painful Case.11)

The closer Mr Duffy gets, the more convinced he is of his loneliness. That's strange, right? But it's true of many characters in Dubliners. Once they know what they're missing, they, well, know what they're missing.

Quote #2

His life would be lonely too until he, too, died, ceased to exist, became a memory—if anyone remembered him. (A Painful Case.32)

It's hard not to think of worst-case scenarios when there's no one around to tell you that that's exactly what you're doing. Sure, it may seem melodramatic to us readers, but for Mr Duffy, his isolation is all too real.

Quote #3

He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous well-meaning sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealizing his own clownish lusts, the pitiable fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse of in the mirror. Instinctively he turned his back more to the light lest she might see the shame that burned upon his forehead. (The Dead.424)

Shame is one of the worst kinds of isolation, because it always takes place in front of somebody you want to please but can't.

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