Appearance of Propriety vs Essence of Propriety in "The Boarding House" by James Joyce

Essay by bostonzenCollege, UndergraduateA, March 2002

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Jones, Stephanie

28 February 2002

Dr. Schneibel MWF 10AM

Fiction Essay

Objective: Explain the theme of James Joyce's "The Boarding House." Identify its overriding idea. Establish grounds for your interpretation and explain why the idea is important.

Theme: Every reputation meets the challenge of realizing the appearance of propriety is of greater social importance than the essence of propriety.

Discussion of theme in "The Boarding House" by James Joyce

When an author sits down to write a story, he or she may already have the basic plot and theme of the story in mind. The setting and mood of a story help to unfold the mystery behind the text: What drove the author to write the story? For "The Boarding House" James Joyce probably sat down with pen, paper, and an idea. As the characters came into motion, the theme became unveiled: it is inevitable that each reputation meets challenges which force the individual to an epiphany that the appearance of propriety is socially more important than the essence of propriety.

In the case of "The Boarding House," Mrs. Mooney, Polly, and Mr. Doran have to battle individual struggles in the attempt to maintain a seemingly reasonably sense of propriety in the community.

As Mrs. Mooney is a member of the Catholic faith and must therefore hold strong in propriety. To ensure a pleasant atmosphere surrounds her, she hosts a gathering on Sundays at which everyone would jump in to act as entertainment including Mrs. Mooney's two children Jack and Polly. Unfortunately, her life hasn't always seemed so easy. After the death of Mrs. Mooney's father, Mr. Mooney "went to the devil" and began to drink, gamble, and engage in other less than ideal activities. When Mr. Mooney attacks her...