A Rock and a Hard Place: French Abuse of Irish Naiveté in “After the Race” College

Throughout history, every generation sees its fair share of change and innovation, but when James Joyce first made his literary debut with Dubliners, shortly after the turn of the 20th century, change was occurring with a rapidity never before seen. Nations were changing the way they interacted with each other, and empires took on new forms and faces seemingly overnight. Age old rivalries between France and England were continuing to escalate, and Ireland, a small country with strong nationalistic sentiments and cultural identity, was inextricably caught up in the tension. In James Joyce’s short story, “After the Race,” published the same year as the outbreak of the First World War, interactions between Jimmy and Segouin is used as a lens through which to view Irish and French relations in light of English tensions, personified prominently near the end of the story in the character of Routh.

Representing general Irish sentiments throughout the text, Jimmy is preoccupied by catching up and keeping pace with Segouin. In driving back into the city after the race, Segouin and his French-Canadian cousin, Riviere, “flung their laughter and light words over their shoulders” as they converse merrily (34). His control of the vehicle and...

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