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The Church’s grasp: Captivity in Joyce’s Dubliners

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  1. Introduction
  2. The colonial characters
  3. Joyce's characters
  4. The Catholic Church
  5. The story of Father Flynn and his young companion
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

It is easy to recognize when one is held captive by the unfamiliar, but the crippling effect of familiar forces is not so easily realized. Throughout American captivity narratives, typically female Anglo-Americans are ensnared by Native Americans, the ?other? of early Anglo-American culture. The early Anglo-Americans imagined the Native Americans as the ?demonic barbarians? against which they defined their own opposing ?pious civilization.? The Anglo-American women's Indian captivity narratives supported and helped construct this dichotomy with horror stories in which they came to prove themselves exemplary Christians in the face of satanic peoples.

[...] While staring at the cold eyes of his wife in Little Cloud,? Little Chandler dreams of rich Jewesses with ?dark Oriental eyes full of passion, of voluptuous longing,? (78). Ironically, the enchanting other for the Catholic schoolboys of Encounter? are the Indians of the Wild West as portrayed in popular boys' magazines. Although the stories contain ?nothing wrong,? according the narrator, they are banned by Father Butler who deems the tales ?rubbish? suitable for ?National School often Protestant children (12). [...]

[...] While held in bondage by the Church, Joyce's characters experience an epiphany frequently opposed to the religious conversion that the women of Indian captivity narratives claim. The Dubliners are betrayed by the reality of the absence of God and hope in their God-fearing city. The narrator of Sisters? realizes the sin of Father Flynn and the evil that he has experienced under the veil of the Church. The narrator of Encounter? fights the oppression of Father Butler by skipping school and seeking ?real adventures that must be sought abroad,? (12). [...]

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