Reopening “A Painful Case”

Karen R. Lawrence and Paul K. Saint-Amour

in Who's Afraid of James Joyce?

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780813034775
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038612 | DOI:
Reopening “A Painful Case”

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This chapter is all about hearing, or not hearing, the voice of the other, and Mrs Sinico's direct dialogue in turn recognizes the importance of being heard, so starkly contrasts Mr Duffy's self-distancing techniques. This single example of direct discourse in the story appears in a sea of narrative mediation and indirection, narration epitomized by Mr Duffy's odd autobiographical habit of thinking about himself in the third person. Direct discourse depends upon the use of first and second person, but in the story, and in Mr Duffy's consciousness, these two “persons” are drowned out by his third-personing of himself, through his odd autobiographical habit. Indeed, at one point we see this self-alienation at work when, in the midst of an intimate meeting with Mrs Sinico, Mr Duffy hears “the strange impersonal voice” which he recognized as his own, insisting on the soul's incurable loneliness.

Keywords: Mrs Sinico; Mr Duffy; narrative mediation; indirection; autobiographical habit

Chapter.  8353 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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