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Dubliners, Counterparts by James Joyce

Categories: DublinersJasper Jones

The main character of the story is Farrington, an alcoholic who works as a clerk, and is bullied and verbally abused by his boss, Mr. Alleyne. Miss Delacour plays the role of a wealthy client. Mr. Shelley is the head clerk at Farrington’s office. The characters Nosey Flynne, O’Halloran, Callan, Paddy Leonard are the men whom Farrington spends his evenings with, drinking at pubs. Weathers is one of the younger men who meet with him at the pubs, in this story he beat Farrington at arm wrestling.

Tom is Farrington’s son who, at the end of the story, is beaten by his drunken father.

2. “He had done for himself in the office, pawned his watch, spend all of his money; and he had not even got drunk” (95). Farrington’s life is repetitious, working as a clerk and producing copies all day long is the type of repetition that adds to his misery. Alcohol plays a key part in his depression and is the highlight of his day, it is the reason for him to pawn his watch and spend his remains on alcohol.

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Similar to his repetitious life in the office, drinking with his friends is a part of his daily routine as well. Every evening Farrington and his friends take turns buying rounds for each other, spending and consuming, again and again. Weathers is a character that plays a significant role in Farrington’s realization about how his routines and traditions do not benefit him, but instead harm him.

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Each of his problems follows him wherever he goes. For an example, he brought his problems with his boss, Mr. Alleyne, from work to the pub with him, and while he continued to drink, those problems only began to snowball and irritate him more. He also brought his problems back into his home with him later that night, and took them out on his son by beating him. It is clear that Farrington is oblivious to his anger and does not know that the he makes bad choices. His work life is the same as his social life and his family life. There is not a part of his life can let him break away from from any other part because every aspect has the ability to make him very angry. By making bad choices such as pawning his watch, drinking excessively, and being rude to his boss, Farrington consistently continues to make life worse for himself.

3. Farrington is an office clerk who is treated poorly by his boss. Upon having to complete a task at work, it becomes apparent that Farrington is a lazy alcoholic as he sneaks out of the office to get a quick drink and never finishes his job. Mr. Alleyne gets angry at Farrington, yells at him, and ends up embarrassing him in front of a Miss Delacour, which makes Farrington feel even more miserable. Later on, Farrington pawns his watch in exchange for alcohol money, and goes out with his friends to the pub for the rest of the night. The more Farrington drinks, he becomes increasingly upset throughout the night, thinking about his lifestyle and drinking habits. In the end, when he got home to a cold dinner and found that the fire to warm it had gone out, he scolded his young son Tom, who pleaded for mercy.

4. The central conflict of the story is escape combined with the abuse of alcohol. Throughout the story Farrington was feeling trapped and wished to escape that lonely and miserable feeling. He was very angry and he had given up on himself by slacking at work, pawning his watch, and spending all of his money. Farrington’s realization these trapped feelings became apparent when the narrator said, “He had lost his reputation as a strong man, having been defeated twice by a mere boy” (95). The passage is explaining Farrington’s feelings after Weathers defeated him in arm wrestling, and we learn that he ends up taking that anger out on his son. In the story the abuse of alcohol represents a lack of self- control and feeling of self worth that lead to violence. It turns out that the easy escape Farrington had longed for would be impossible for the drunken man to achieve. Instead of escaping, he deceived himself by deceiving his family.

5. Routine and the repetition are two themes present in this story. The narrator said, “His body ached to do something, to rush out and revel in violence. All the indignities of his life enraged him” (89).This passage explains the everyday repetitious life of Farrington, and how he needed to escape that kind of a lifestyle. These routines and repetitions have trapped him in a vicious cycle of irritation and violence. Routines have an effect on people often involved in many difficult dilemmas, and the routines of his life trap him from being able to have new encounters and new beginnings. These consequences of never breaking away from the same routines can also lead to loneliness and unhappiness. In the story “Counterparts”, Farrington is able to show these results and brutality of a repetitive lifestyle.

Cite this page

Dubliners, Counterparts by James Joyce. (2017, Aug 28). Retrieved from

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