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The Call of the Orient for Joyce’s Dubliners

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  1. Introdcution
  2. The Dublin of 'The Sisters' and 'A Little Cloud'
  3. The hopelessness of the city shared by Little Chandler and the boy
  4. Little Chandler's vicarious trip around the world
  5. Conclusion
  6. Works cited

When the body is unable to physically escape from the familiar, the mind will journey to the land of the ?other,? the unknown that promises relief from everyday, prosaic existence. For the captives of Dublin in Joyce's Dubliners, the paralyzing effects of the city cause their thoughts and dreams to wander to the East, the exotic region of which they can only fantasize. The Orient embodies the romantic and mystical that is seemingly absent from their lives in dear dirty Dublin. The young narrator of ?The Sisters? longs for these exciting ideals in an attempt to escape his boring, philistine family living in fear of the almighty Catholic Church. In ?A Little Cloud,? it is Little Chandler, a lowly clerk with poetic ambitions, who dreams of the Orient as an exotic alternative to the dreary, inescapable life Dublin has dealt him. Both Little Chandler and the narrator of ?The Sisters? gain access to the mysteries of the East through superior, knowledgeable figures whom they regard with awe. However, both Dubliners ultimately become disillusioned with the powers of the Orient when their Eastern dreams are betrayed by the reality of their lives.

[...] After hearing old Cotter express his unease about the relationship of the boy and the ?peculiar? priest, the narrator begins to feel there was something sinful about the paralytic Father Flynn's face haunts his dream, ?[confessing] to [him] in a murmuring voice,? and he ?[wonders] why it smiled continually and why the lips were so moist with spittle,? When trying to recall the dream, the narrator ?felt that had been very far away, in some land where the customs were strange?in Persia,? The sensuality and allure of the Orient have been used for perverse motives, luring the boy into the priest's trap. [...]

[...] The boy befriends Father Flynn, an old paralytic priest who captures his attention with lessons of the cultic and mystical aspects of the Church's power, prompting the narrator's disapproving uncle to refer to the boy as a ?Rosicrucian,? one trained in mysticism originating in ancient Egypt The narrator is enchanted by the strange sound of the words the priest utters: and ?paralysis,? The latter ?fills him with fear, and yet [he longs] to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly Father Flynn him how complex and mysterious were certain institutions of the Church which had always regarded as the simplest transforming the seemingly boring, ubiquitous Church into a source of wonder and escape, something vaguely Eastern Little Chandler seeks his link to the unknown world in his old friend Ignatius Gallaher, returning to Dublin for a brief visit from his new home in London. [...]

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