The Dead by James Joyce

The Dead by James Joyce

Q. Write the summary of The Dead by James Joyce.

The Dead by James Joyce

The Morkan’s Party

The story “The Dead” by James Joyce starts at the Morkan sisters’ annual Christmas party in Dublin in the early 20th century. Kate, Julia Morkan, and their niece, Mary Jane, hosted this special event.

It is a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate. The party is a highlight in their social calendar, showing the warmth and traditions of Irish culture.

Guests arrive in a festive mood, ready to enjoy an evening of music, dance, and good company. The house is lively, filled with the sounds of laughter and conversation. Among the guests are Gabriel Conroy, the nephew of the Morkan sisters, and his wife, Gretta.

The party sets the stage for the story, introducing key characters and the setting. It is a scene of joy and togetherness, but it also hints at deeper themes of identity and connection that Joyce explores throughout the story.

Gabriel’s Arrival and Interactions

Gabriel Conroy and his wife, Gretta, arrive at the Morkan sisters’ party, an essential event in their social life. Gabriel’s interactions immediately hint at his character’s complexity.

He has an awkward conversation with Lily, the housemaid, about her future and marriage. This chat ends on a slightly uncomfortable note, reflecting Gabriel’s struggle to connect deeply with others.

Later, Gabriel encounters Miss Ivors, another guest. She teases him about writing for a pro-British newspaper and calls him a “West Briton.”

This label, suggesting he is too aligned with British rather than Irish interests, unsettles Gabriel. It reveals his internal conflict about his Irish identity and his place in society.

Gabriel appears polite and well-mannered throughout these interactions, but there is a sense of detachment. He needs to be more relaxed in defending his life choices or engaging with the conversations’ more profound, more personal aspects.

These early exchanges at the party set the stage for Gabriel’s character development, showing him as a man caught between different worlds and not entirely comfortable in either.

Dance and Dinner

At the Morkan sisters’ party, guests enjoy a lively dance. Gabriel Conroy joins in, dancing with Miss Ivors. She playfully accuses him of being a “West Briton” for his writings in a pro-British newspaper.

This teasing makes Gabriel uncomfortable. It reveals his doubts about his Irish identity and how others see him. After the dance, everyone gathers for dinner. The atmosphere is warm and cheerful.

The dinner is a traditional Irish feast, reflecting the Morkan sisters’ dedication to their heritage. Conversations around the table are lively, covering various topics from politics to family matters.

Gabriel’s speech is a highlight of the dinner. He talks warmly about his aunts and the importance of Irish traditions. His words show respect and admiration for his family’s history. The speech is well received, making Gabriel a respected guest figure.

The dance and dinner scenes at the party show the richness of Irish culture and the complex social interactions among the characters. These moments set the stage for more profound revelations and conflicts in the story.

Gabriel’s Speech

During the dinner at the Morkan sisters’ party, Gabriel Conroy gives a speech. He stands up to speak, feeling a mix of pride and nervousness. Gabriel’s speech praises his aunts, Kate and Julia, and their niece, Mary Jane, for their hospitality.

He discusses the importance of tradition and its role in Irish life. His heartfelt words show his deep respect for his family’s efforts to keep these traditions alive.

Gabriel also shows hospitality and kindness. He emphasizes how these values create a sense of community and belonging. His speech was well-received by the guests, who applauded and appreciated his sentiments.

This speech is significant because it shows Gabriel as a figure who respects and values his heritage. It also highlights his role in the family and the community, marking him as a central character in the story.

Gretta’s Distant Behavior and the Song

As the Morkan sisters’ party continues, Gabriel Conroy notices a change in his wife, Gretta. She becomes quiet and seems lost in thought, which catches Gabriel’s attention.

He sees her standing at the top of the staircase, deeply moved by a song being sung by another guest. The song “The Lass of Aughrim” profoundly affects her.

Gretta’s reaction to the song is unusual and intense. It makes her seem distant from the rest of the party, including Gabriel. She is absorbed in her memories and emotions triggered by the song.

This moment marks a turning point in the story, leading to a significant revelation about Gretta’s past. It also creates a sense of mystery and anticipation about what this song means to her and how it connects to her life.

Departure and Gretta’s Revelation

After the Morkan sisters’ party, Gabriel and Gretta Conroy leave for their hotel. Gabriel is excited about spending a romantic night with Gretta.

However, once they reach their room, the mood changes. Gretta seems distant, and Gabriel asks her about it. She then reveals what was on her mind during the party.

Gretta tells Gabriel about a song she heard at the party, “The Lass of Aughrim.” This song reminded her of a boy named Michael Furey, whom she loved when she was young.

Michael died very young, and the song was something they shared. Gretta’s story surprises Gabriel. He realizes there is a deep and emotional part of his wife’s life that he never knew about.

This revelation makes Gabriel see Gretta in a new light. He understands that her past and memories are complex and have shaped who she is. This moment deepens the emotional intensity of the story.

Gabriel’s Emotional Turmoil

After hearing Gretta’s story about Michael Furey, Gabriel Conroy feels a rush of emotions. He is surprised and jealous, realizing his wife had a deep, passionate love in her past that he knew nothing about.

This makes Gabriel feel distant from Gretta. He starts to question his feelings and the nature of their relationship. Gabriel also feels sad and reflective. He thinks about the power of the past and how it continues to affect the present.

This leads him to think about his life, choices, and place in the world. He feels isolated, realizing that there are parts of Gretta’s life and heart that he can never fully understand or be a part of.

This emotional turmoil is a turning point for Gabriel, making him reflect deeply on his own identity and the complexities of human relationships.


The story “The Dead” ends with Gabriel Conroy deep in thought. He looks out the window of their hotel room, watching the snowfall. The snow covers everything across Dublin, symbolizing unity in all life and death.

Gabriel reflects on his life and his relationship with Gretta. He feels a deep connection to all the people of Ireland, living and dead. This moment is peaceful yet profound. Gabriel realizes that life is complex and interconnected.

The story closes with him contemplating these thoughts, and he feels a blend of sadness, understanding, and a newfound awareness of the bigger picture of life.

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