"The Dead"

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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"The Dead" What was the occasion of the get together? I'm interested in the story "The Dead" because of personal experiences that I have had. This story sparked my curiosity because it never really told you the real reason of the get together. As I was reading "The Dead", I became interested in some of the symbols that were in the story. I enjoyed trying to figure out the true meaning of the symbols. I also liked this story because usually we think of get togethers as parties, birthdays or celebrations. I don't know of too many people who get together for "The Dead" other than a funeral. The occasion of the get together was to reunite the living with the dead.

First, I evaluated the stories use of symbolism. I found the character Pat to be an important symbol. From the text I concluded that his death brought everyone together.

Death is something we all share. I have a similar, actually very recent experience. About a week ago, my best friend had passed away due to cancer at the age of twenty-one. His death is similar to Pat because he is what brought myself, his friends and everyone in his family together.

Another character that caught my attention was Lily. It wasn't so much her youth and innocence that I was interested in. It was the meaning of her 1 name and the importance of it to "The Dead". In terms of flowers, lilies are used at funerals(death). The funeral I attended had beautiful arrangements of lilies. Also, during Easter we have Easter Lilies(rebirth).

Secondly, the music and dancing at the get together is another way that leads, myself as the reader to "death". The dancing and music was very formal, stiff and uptight. In the text, after Gabriel gave his speech, "All the guests stood up, glass in hand, and turning towards the three seated ladies, sang in unison, with Mr. Browne as leader: For they all jolly gay fellows, For they all jolly gay fellows, For they all jolly gay fellows, which nobody can deny"(826). I feel this song is not only a ritual for the people that attended the get together, but it's also one of the deathly parts of the party. The song is deathly because the people are acting crazy and careless. As a result of their carelessness bad things could happen. However, the singing and dancing is what makes the party lively.

Another moment in the text that leads you to "The Dead" is when Gabriel wandered to the wall above the piano. There was a picture of "the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet and beside it was a picture of the two murdered princes in the Tower"(804). The paintings show that true love is like death and from what I have read about Gabriel he is similar to or equal to a traitor which is equal to death.

Thirdly, the snow connects the living and the dead. A moment in the text when the party was lifeless or death like was when Gabriel was inside at the party and looking outside. "Gabriel's warm trembling fingers tapped the cold pane of the window. How cool it must be outside!"(817). The snow represents a change of seasons for most of us. For instance, it officially marks that winter has come. The irony to the story is that the snow is like life.

2 Inside, the party is like life. However, in the end both the party and the snow eventually result in death.

Lastly, I found the golashes to have significant meaning to the story. At first I thought it was something similar to a tap dance shoe. However, I later concluded that it was perhaps more like a snow boot. A protection or barrier against the snow. "Whenever it's wet underfoot I must put on my goloshes."(810). I feel this moment in the text also gave me some insight to the author. For instance, He hated his country and he didn't really care for his wife. He seemed to be distant from his wife. For example, this scene from the text best describes how Gabriel truly feels about his wife.

"He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air that the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something. He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow, listening to distant music. If he were a painter he would paint her in that attitude. Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter."(829).

This part in the text revealed even more about the character Gabriel. In this moment he is admiring his wife. However, at the same time he is dehumanizing her, taking away the life like qualities, ghost like appearance. For example, dark hair and light clothing. I feel Gabriel's true love is only physical and memory is spiritual.

3 In conclusion, this story leaves me with an impression of how "The Dead" still have an affect on our lives. Some of the things that happen to us in life isn't what they seem. For instance, getting together for a funeral versus a party. The ways we acknowledge everyone's presence. Then realizing why we have been a part of family and/or friends' get togethers and what you have learned about yourself or others.