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Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Duffy of Jackson's "Painful Case"

Throughout Roberta Jackson's critique of "A Painful Case" she presents and elaborates upon the contextual relevance of the story to Joyce's own life. She uses this biographical analysis to reconstruct the reader's perception of the main character, Duffy, as a "closeted" homosexual. Her argument is viable and well supported and the extent to which Joyce used references from his personal life is made quite clear in Jackson's article, but what remains unclear is how much creative leniency he took. Is Duffy infact a "closeted" homosexual? Can Duffy simply not be a reclusive moral realist loosely based on his brother? Jackson's analysis of Duffy's confession of his "soul's incurable loneliness" to Mrs. Sinico suggests that this statement of Duffy's hints towards his sexual orientation. In Her analysis she makes a fair argument but that is not to say his statment could just as easily be a stated observation of an intellectual realist. For after reading about Mrs. Sinico's death, Duffy analyzes the situation and states, as callous as it may be, that "evidently she had been unfit to live, without any strength of purpose, an easy prey to habits, one of the wrecks on which civilisation has been reared (97)." With a hard analysis of a text, more questions and possibilities arise than answers or certainties. A work of fiction is always and will forever be a work of fiction.

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