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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Struggling to See the Queer Theory in James Joyce’s “A Painful Case”

Had we not been concurrently studying queer theory in class and reading Roberta Jackson’s article “The Open Closet in Dubliners: James Duffy’s Painful Case”, I would have never considered “A Painful Case” to be an example for literary criticism in the area of queer theory. Jackson cites evidence of queer theory in Duffy’s “rejection of a woman’s love” (328), the woman being Mrs. Sinicio, a married woman whom he breaks off a potentially romantic relationship with. If his inability to accept the love of a woman was definitely the reason for his decision, I would have no problem with seeing the homosexuality, but I am more inclined to see the fact that she is married and has a daughter as the more viable reason. On one of their meetings, Duffy “seized the moments when her daughter’s attention was diverted to become intimate” (92). This passage suggests that he was intimate with Mrs. Sinicio to some extent if not sexually. Also, his desire to keep their intimacies secret from her daughter suggests that he does not want to destroy Mrs. Sinicio’s marriage, weighing the traumatic impact it would have on her daughter to live through her mother’s affair and an eventual divorce.

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