The narration the “Dead” is about two sisters Kate Morkan and Julia who are on their annual holiday and they plan for a party. The two siblings anxiously wait for their nephew Gabriel Convoy to arrive; he is a son of their deceased sister Ellen. After waiting patiently, Gabriel arrived, the two aunts demanded a reason for his lateness and Gabriel replies "I'll engage they did," said Gabriel, "but they forget that my wife here takes three mortal hours to dress herself " (Joyce, 2008).
The theme of the story is to show how the writer perceived the setting Dublin city as the midpoint of paralysis. By this, she implies that, there is difficulty in acting, moving and developing both spiritually and emotionally. In relation to the “Dead” story, it reveals how Gabriel becomes self-conscious because of the paralysis issue. Gabriel becomes self-conscious concerning Lily’s careless comments concerning marriage and speech to deliver after dinner. He later avoids the confrontation by Miss Ivors when she blames him of his loyalty towards the British.
The plot of this tale revolves about the actions and the thoughts of Gabriel Conroy when he attended a party with his wife on invitation by his two aunts. The narration of this story is in a realistic way; it concentrates less on key events than it does on slight symbolism. Conroy in the story acts in an awkward, humble and self-absorbed manner. Later in the narration, he realizes his self-being when his wife informs him of her earlier relationship with a youth who was in love with her before she met him. The writer does not make it clear the real change that Gabriel undergoes and this issue results to arguments and the people’s different point of views towards the matter. According to people’s critics in relation to the story, they disagree on whether Gabriel’s change is about his self-consciousness acceptance or if involved in spiritual growth. There are also arguments as to whether Conroy is humane person or compassionate in the story.
The characters in the story involve people who the writer is familiar with, and they include her friends and family members. There are minor characters such as Molly Ivors, a patriotic pal of Gabriel, who participate in the story by dancing together with Gabriel. Lily is another character that plays a house cleaner’s role, at some point she becomes so curious about Gabriel’s love life who insults her after asking him. These characters in one way or another have a connection with death in the story.
Starting with the main actor Conroy, he is a nephew of Kate and Julia and Mary Jane’s cousin. Conroy is still young and energetic, married and a proud dad of two kids. There are arguments that, Gabriel is a messenger in the bible who announced the birth of John the Baptist. On the contrary, Gabriel in this context is a passive actor, who in most cases appears insecure, and acts awkwardly with discomfort in social settings. The story creates an element of irony when Gabriel bumps into a woman in the party whom she recognizes as his wife. After both of them listens to a song by artist D’Arcy, Gabriel notes the nostalgic appearance in the woman.
To emphasize on the point further, his wife Gretta hurts Conroy’s feelings more when she tells him that the song reminds her of the youth time in Galway, when she was in love with Michael Furey. "It's nothing very wonderful, but Gretta thinks it very funny because she says the word reminds her of Christy Minstrels." (Burke, 1996). This conversation between Gretta and her husband brings thoughts into Gabriel’s mind resulting to different views about him and Gretta. As a result, the epiphany connects him to the past, the dead and the living world, the situation becomes ambiguous whether what Conroy is going through is an emotional or artistic moment. The end of this episode leaves the readers contemplating if Gabriel will ever overcome his insecure and condescending behavior.