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by James Joyce

Dubliners The Sisters Summary

  • The narrator's all scared that someone he knows has died. Yeah, that would be pretty scary.
  • At dinner, the narrator's uncle reveals that the dead man is none other than Father Flynn, a priest and friend of the narrator's.
  • An annoying family friend named Old Cotter and the boy's uncle discuss whether it's appropriate for the boy to have been so close to the priest, and the boy gets mad but holds his tongue. 
  • Here's where things get really interesting. The narrator dreams of the priest's face and sees it confessing to him, as if he were a priest. Weird, right?
  • The next morning, the boy drops by the priest's house and reads the death announcement.
  • It's way too scary to go in and see the body, though. (See, way back when, folks laid the bodies of the dead in open coffins in their homes so everyone could say adios, one last time.)
  • What he's really thinking about is his own relationship to the priest, which basically boiled down to his bringing the guy snuff tobacco and being quizzed by him about the Mass. You know, a real peas and carrots kind of friendship.
  • The same night, the narrator's aunt takes him back to the house. The priest's two sisters, Eliza and Nannie, welcome them inside. And here's where the really important stuff comes out: 
  • The narrator finally views the priest's corpse and says the face is "truculent, gray, and massive" (The Sisters.33). Lovely.
  • Everyone gets the heck out of there and grabs a seat downstairs to hear Eliza spill the beans on the priest's last days. 
  • And it turns out that in his last days, the man totally went 'round the bend. Dude lost his mind.
  • Eliza tells several stories about the priest, including his ungranted wish to visit his childhood home in the Dublin suburb of Irishtown before his death and the odd circumstances of his final illness, in which he was found laughing to himself in a confessional box in his chapel. 
  • Annnnd scene.

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