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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

James Joyce's "An Encounter": Did the Narrator Purposely Invite Leo, Knowing That He Would Not Show?

The day prior to the trip to Pigeon House, Leo and Mahony gave their sixpence to the narrator, on the assumption that all three boys would show up the next morning. It seems that Leo not showing up for the “adventure” would be (at first glance) beneficial for both the narrator and Mahony because they would both increase the amount of money they have. With more money, they would obviously be able to expand upon their mostly unplanned journey. As the story progresses, however, it seems that Leo would have been a beneficial companion for the narrator to have because of the sudden sense of adventure that appears within the narrator. He first told us how he prefers American detective stories over adventure tales, but after putting school happenings on the “back burner,” he changes his mind. “But when the restraining influence of the school was at a distance I began to hunger again for wild sensations, for the escape which chronicles of disorder alone seemed to offer me” (Joyce 13). With such a sporadic sense of adventure, having another fair-weather adventurer would seem beneficial, especially when traveling with a character such as Mahony. Mahony could have offered up an endless amount of possibilities to make their adventure more “exciting.” With the absence of Leo, the narrator is more likely to agree to raising the stakes of the adventure, but if Leo was present, the narrator would be more inclined to speak his mind. Because of the slang-using, adventurous Mahony, having Leo along for the adventure would have helped the narrator more than it would have hindered him.

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking that the narrator would not put much effort into relaying the background information of Leo if he had not intended him to take a part in the following. Instead, I think the introduction of Leo was used to show a level of social hierarchy and strength, where the boy is below Mahony and above Leo. With the absence of Leo, the boys strength is diminished, causing him to rely on Mahony even more.