The Shield of Women's Oppression: The Use of Strict Religion and Society to Evade an Overbearing Family in "Grace" and "The Boarding House" 12th Grade

As a homeless man once professed on LA local news after being robbed for the sixth consecutive week, “When we are beaten down, we must always remember that God shall always be waiting as our crutch”. While the words are moving, they are certainly not a new concept. James Joyce’s Dubliners takes this statement and dives deeper by especially examining how women use religion, and specifically the rigid Catholic society, to find an escape. These women do not bow to oppression. Like the homeless man wielding God as his crutch, they too wield the rigid social constructs of 1900’s Dublin as a tool to achieve their goal of actually improving their lives, a situation that is specifically alluded to by Joyce in the short stories Grace and The Boarding House.

In Grace, the reader is presented with a mother and a wife in Dublin. She is older, with children long out of the home and an aging husband that she is often forced to take care of. She lives a less-than-perfect life where “Religion for her was a habit… [and] her beliefs were not extravagant” (Joyce “Grace”, Dubliners 134). To her, religion is not something to throw herself into because of excessive faith, rather it is a tool that she has bent to her will to provide her with more...

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