The Presentation of Childhood in Dubliners 12th Grade

The theme of childhood is typically presented as one of happiness and youthful freedom. James Joyce takes a different approach, however, as he exposes the vulnerability that naturally comes with childhood but is often not expressed in literature. He does this through his use of language, free indirect speech and through the content which he chooses to include, in stories such as "The Sisters" and "An Encounter." These two stories show the vulnerability of childhood, without presenting the child as naïve, which is especially true in "An Encounter." Each story takes place over a different periods of time, as "The Sisters" shows how a trusted authoritative adult figure is capable of taking advantage of a child over a longer time period than the stranger which is presented in "An Encounter." These narratives provide two useful insights into the differing levels of vulnerability in children.

Joyce presents the vulnerability of childhood by placing the children in his stories with possibly inappropriate adult figures, which can be clearly seen in "The Sisters" and "An Encounter." The inappropriate relationship between the priest and the boy in "The Sisters" is more subtly hinted at than in "An Encounter," as the boy’s uncle says, ‘I...

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