by James Joyce
I read "The Dead" probably about 10 years ago, and re-reading it now I found I remembered the absolutely brutal, cutting last few pages, but I had forgotten most of what came before. Joyce yanks out the rug from under Gabriel, as all of his concerns, desires, and thoughts are rendered foolish by the revelations of the last few pages. Gabriel is a newer, educated Irishman, pulled towards the idea that England and continental Europe are more serious and urbane than his native land, but this attitude is exploded by the events of the story. This kind of political undercurrent runs through Dubliners, particularly in stories like "After the Race" and "Ivy Day in the Committee Room." The class struggles that exist in contemporary British stories are present here, but the stories also struggle with the idea that Irish culture is often perceived as somehow lesser than many of the other nations of Western Europe.