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Gabriel: His Realization

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The Dead written by James Joyce is a short story created with layers of characters, personalities and plot. Gabriel becomes aware of how he feels about his wife and who he is as a husband. The short story starts out with Gabriel and his wife Gretta arriving to a house for a family reunion. At this reunion Gabriel is to give a speech honoring Kate and Julia Morkan. In this speech Gabriel uses words that some of the audience have a difficulty understanding. He also sees himself superior because of this, but yet he stills feels pathetic because of this.
The first thing that Gabriel learns about himself is the strong love that he has for his wife. This is first seen when he notices a woman at the top of the staircase in the house and"he could not see her face but he could see the terra-cotta and salmon-pink panels of her skirt which the shadow made appear to be black and white. It was his wife" (Joyce, 143). Gabriel notices his wife's silhouette feels that his wife is beautiful and that he is mesmerized by the love that he has for her.
This self-awareness of his love for his wife is also seen a few minutes later as he admires her walking in the streets as they walked back to the hotel: "[Gretta] she was walking on before him so lightly and so erect that he [Gabriel] longed to run after her noiselessly, catch her by the shoulders and say something foolish and affectionate into her ear." (Joyce, 145). Gabriel is in love with his wife, but there is still a tension in there relationship that Gabriel has become self aware of because Gretta who was more cheerful at the reunion now seemed a bit more somber and sad.
The next thing that Gabriel learns about himself is that he is not the husband he thought he was. Gretta admits to Gabriel that a man named Michael Furey whom was in love with her died, and in a reply to Gabriel she says"I think he died for me." (Joyce, 150) Michael was a sweet man who tried to show his true love and devotion to Gretta. One harsh winter Michael became sick with pneumonia and Gretta was not allowed to go and visit him because she was leaving to go to the convent the next day. As she was packing that night Gretta heard the sound of pebbles against her window. She ran down the stairs and out into the garden where Michael was standing out in the bitter cold. Michael ended up dying the week after Gretta moved into the convent.
This story that Gretta told Gabriel broke Gabriel's heart because he is not the husband that he thought he was. As Gretta cried until she feel asleep, Gabriel laid beside her in the bed of the hotel room. As he laid there in the silence "a few light taps upon the window made him turned toward the window." (Joyce, 152) The light taps are a parallel to the sound of the pebbles that Michael Furey through against Gretta's window. The snow also began to fall and Gabriel felt that "the time had come for him to set his journey Westward" (Joyce, 152). Gabriel is self-aware that in this moment feels that he is getting closer to death because westward means going towards death. The snow came down heavier and heavier "Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland...It was falling, too, upon every part of lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael lay buried... [Gabriel] His soul swooned slowly as he heard snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead" (Joyce, 152)
This final scene is very crucial to Gabriel's self awareness. Not only does Gabriel realizes that he loves his wife, but his wife does not love him back. This makes him feel as if he is already dead and that he is heading towards death. He also feels that his efforts have meant nothing because he cannot compare himself to Michael. Even though Gabriel has accomplished many things in his life and has won many awards he achievements do not compare to the fact the Michael Furey died for his wife.
The Dead written by James Joyce is a short story a man who finds out who he truly is. The parallels and symbols are great for this approximate forty page story. Readers can learn something new from this story each time it is read.

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