Many may be astonished when someone speaks of a short story entitled The Dead. But, as most people know an author isn't going to call a piece of his work something for no reason. James Joyce titled The Dead as such to help get the meaning of the story across better, that the characters are dead; they show no real emotion, they say nothing of substance and pretend certain things happen , did not. By this being part of the culture, Joyce is saying that the Irish culture is dead.
The hostesses of the annual dance, which is the setting of the story, Kate, Julia, and Mary Jane Morkan anxiously, await Gabriel Conroy in their beloved nephews arrival. The have Lily, the girl who is answering the door, taking coats, and helping people go where they need to, tell them the second he arrives. When he finally does arrive the first thing they speak about is whether or not Gabriel and his wife Gretta are going to take the cab home or not.
The conversation progresses to the topic of golashes, which Gabriel and Gretta now wear because Gabriel wishes to. This is hardly the type of conversation anyone should be having with a loved one whom they haven't seen or spoken to for a while. The conversation is very superficial.
For the entire beginning of the story the hostesses dread the arrival of Freddy Malins, for he always arrives drunk and does and says things that are inappropriate. The hostesses rely on Gabriel to make sure Freddy is drunk and how drunk he is. Gabriel escorts Freddy to meet the Morkans and to wash up and make himself presentable. Freddy upsets the balance of polite pretending. Freddy, as many drunk people say whatever they want, whenever they want. Freddy...