With some painful work, re-reading, and head-scratching, I finally came into agreement with Roberta Jackson’s argument: that James Duffy begins to reveal his homoerotic nature upon meeting, greeting, and leaving Emily Sinico.
It is almost painful to see how orderly Mr. Duffy’s life has become upon his meeting with Mrs. Sinico. His disdain for “anything which betokened physical or mental disorder” is reflected in the clean and methodical organization of his house, his daily routine, and most importantly, the absence of unique daily occurrences that Joyce regards as life altering (Dubliners 317-318). Yet in the next arguably mundane period of his life, the “four years” after his dismissal, Mr. Duffy is not totally the same. Originally absconding to writing as a submission of “himself to the criticisms of an obtuse middle class which entrusted its morality to policemen”, Mr. Duffy begins to write, albeit seldom in occurrence (320). Yet Joyce chooses the one phrase that reveals a change in thought and his morality: “Love between man and man is impossible because there must not be sexual intercourse and friendship between man and woman is impossible because there must be sexual intercourse” (321).
Trusting in Jackson’s testimony about the existence of a “homosexual panic” infused in culture and legal systems of Joyce’s time, this most recent quotation reveals Mr. Duffy’s first acknowledgement of the situation (Jackson, from J-STOR, 84). In this writing, Joyce notes a divergence from the “orderliness of his mind”, showing the beginning of Mr. Duffy’s questioning of the world around him (Dubliners 321). Mr. Duffy’s questioning correlates with Jackson’s assertion that “the scandals had the paradoxical effect of making many homosexual men aware of their identity” (Jackson 89). Going back to the story, from who did the trigger to Mr. Duffy’s realization originate? Mrs. Sinico.