Dubliners By James Joyce James Joyce’s Dubliners was written in 1914 right at the onset of World War I breaking out in Europe. It is a journey through the stages of life itself: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, public life and finally death. Each one of the stories in the novel fall into one of these stages. “After the Race” falls into the adolescence aspect of the book. It does this because the characters have not yet grown up. Although they are adults they are still immature. Jimmy is easily fooled into gambling away all of his money.
He never regretted it. He was actually happy that Routh won the game and took everyone’s money. Because of actions like this they are very carefree about how they go about with life. The only thing that they want to do is be happy. They were very free, moving about doing whatever they wanted, but a cloud was settling over them.
This cloud was entrapment. Most of the story is about how the characters struggled to keep their freedoms over the entrapments. It also touches upon other characters from other stories by paralleling Jimmy to Eveline. “After the Race” is a story in which the ideas of freedom and entrapment are tested and joined as one to prove the overall archetype in Dubliners of paralysis and death. Freedom can be seen throughout this story.
Each character presents their own struggle with freedom. The aspect of freedom can also be seen in the setting that is used in “After the Race.” Even the aspect of a race can be thought of as freedom. The drivers are speeding along down windy roads toward an endpoint where there is a reward. While driving the driver can become one with nature. He sees his surroundings and must make split second decisions about what to do.
One can see freedom in this. It is the freedom of choice. In Dubliners as a whole many characters struggle with this freedom. It is no different in the story of “After the Race.” The race that is spoken about has a long history of running. It is run once every four years.
The course itself has long mountain climbs through Achill Island, Kerry, Cork and Wicklow and a fast frenetic route from Criterium to Dublin’s O’Connell Street and Parnell Square. It consists of one hundred twelve kilometers through Slane, Navan, Clonee and Lucan. The roads that the race is run on are always shut down. The drivers pass through beautiful scenery and are greeted in Dublin by thousands of spectators. The finish line to the race is in front of the President’s house. 1 The race car itself also brings a sense of freedom to the reader of the story.
Joyce writes, “How smoothly it ran. In what style they had come careering along the country roads! The journey laid a magical finger on the genuine pulse of life and gallantly the machinery of human nerves strove to answer the bounding courses of the swift blue animal.”2 This shows how they viewed the complex machinery of a race car as a sort of freedom. “Today many people still view the idea of complex machinery as freedom because of mankind’s control over nature.”3 The city to city races that would take place along European country side around the turn of the century were a “sport of beauty in which even spectators were free to interact with the drivers.”4 The passengers of the car were even experiencing their own freedoms. Joyce writes, “In one of these trimly built cars was a party of four young men whose spirits seemed to be at present well above the level of successful Gallicism: in fact, these four young men were almost hilarious.” 5 The men in the car were very carefree. “They knew that they would probably not win this race, but continued to go about their merry ways.” 6 They cruised through the countryside and into the crowded streets of Dublin knowing that they had lost the race. Garrett says they were proud of their achievement of making it through the entire race.
7 There is the same sense of freedom that was involved with the race. That freedom is the freedom of being one with nature. If they were not feeling this freedom then loosing the race would have most likely come down harder on them. They were extremely happy in the event of losing this race. A different, but highly related sense of freedom comes about from the passengers themselves.
An example of this comes when Villona is singing in the car; “Decidedly Villona was in excellent spirits; he kept up a deep bass hum of melody for miles of the road.”8 He was just enjoying the ride and trying to amuse himself at the same times. The two Frenchmen also experienced this too; “The Frenchmen flung their laughter and light words over their shoulders and often Jimmy had to strain forward to catch the quick phrase.”9 They were having great fun while they were driving. Jimmy was trying to become a part of all of this, but was unable to keep up with the Frenchmen in their conversation. A very subtle view of freedom comes when Jimmy and his friend leave the race car on the streets of Dublin. Joyce writes “Near the Bank Segouin drew up and Jimmy and his friend alighted.”10 They were very happy to be in the car, but were very anxious to get out of the car.
In this sequence Jimmy mirrors Eveline from “Eveline” and her anxiousness to start a new life. However, unlike Eveline, Jimmy is actually able to leave and move on. Another view of this is given by John Bayley. He writes that the two young Irishmen leave the car filled with the Frenchmen and the Hungarian it is somewhat a view of Ireland trying to become an independent nation.11 However, this can not be clearly seen for Ireland was not trying to escape France of Belgium, but rather England. If the connection that Bayley presents is true then it is extremely subtle.
However, later on in the story Joyce writes “The party was increased by a young Englishman named Routh whom Jimmy had seen with Segouin at Cambridge. Bayley makes another point about this. Bayley writes “At this time the British were allied with the French and were friends with the Hungarians.”12 This supports his above claim that Jimmy and his friend represented Ireland’s struggle for freedom. For now the Frenchman and the Hungarian are related to the English through Routh. This claim may not make that much sense, but it does work.
Jimmy shows a sense of freedom a bit later on in the story when the reader is given background on his education. Jimmy was at “a big Catholic College”13 in England and was later sent “to Dublin University to study law.”14 At college he went about doing his own stuff instead of studying. Joyce writes, “Jimmy did not study very earnestly and took to bad courses for a while. He had money and he was popular; and he divided his time curiously between musical and motoring circles.” 15 This shows that even though he was sent away to study law his natural interest was with music and cars. This shows his freedom of choice about his own life and what he wanted to learn about. Walter Allen writes, “Jimmy is very well off.
He realizes that he does not need an education to further his wealth because he is already rich, however he uses this opportunity to achieve his own status. He purposely slacks off so he can become popular among his piers. He wants to fit in with the rest of his upper class.” 16 Allen is pointing to the reason behind Jimmy’s freedom of choice about his life. He says the reason he does what he wants to do is that he just wants to fit in at school. He makes friends with rich people and gets along with them relatively well.
However, later on in the story he is robbed of a lot of money by his friends during a poker game. In the end it might seem that even though Jimmy used his friends to gain status at school, his friends used him for his money. The final bit of freedom besides the final sentence of the story happens at the start of their party aboard Farley’s yacht. Joyce writes, “Villona played a waltz for Farley and Riviere, Farley acting as cavalier and Riviere as lady. Then and impromptu square dance, the men devising original figures.”17 This passages shows the freedom in the form of playfulness and youth. Garrett writes, “The piano playing and dancing shows that the young adults are still in fact children in a sense.
They could care less about how they looked in front of their piers. Their …