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Transcript of "Counterparts"
Situation of Story
One of the key themes in “Counterparts”, as in ‘Eveline” is the
study of an alcoholic
but in "Counterparts" Joyce studies his main character against a backdrop of drudgery and humiliation, tracing its connection with his
"A Little Cloud" and "Counterparts" suggest that the
fears of marriage are well founded
, for the responsibilities of marriage exceed the earning capacity of most middle-class Catholic men that is to say marrying lowers their lifestyles.
Farrington, the child-beater in "Counterparts," is forced to retain his terrible job to support his family.
In the same way, in “A Little Cloud”, Chandler’s status a petty clerk in a law office is explained by Joyce by the fact that Chandler is married. Gallaher, on the other hand, who is single leads a free and energetic life: Joyce thus show the reader the marriage merely leads to entrapment, remorse and suffering.
Married life is ultimately deemed for failure since it offered merely an entrapment
Farrington is paralyzed at work, with no hope of promotion due the ongoing conflict with his boss. At work, his boss forces him into submission.
Farrington also does not succeed in his original goal to get drunk. After the night of drinking with his friends, and a considerable amount of alcohol, he is still not drunk. His alcoholism is another source of paralysis for him, causing him to leave work to have a drink.
Basic Story Elements
When Farrington pawns his watch for drinking money
"Suddenly, as he was fingering his watch-chain, he thought of Terry Kelly's pawn-office in Fleet Street. That was the dart! Why didn't he think of it sooner? (91)"
The readers can recognize how desperate Farrington really is to want to escape reality through alcohol
This event is a true indicator of Farrington's interior silence and turmoil
Farrington, who copies legal documents, is stuck in a boring job from which he seeks diversion
He is completely powerless over every aspect of his life and this is highlighted by his physical dependence on alcohol
Constantly "thirsty" throughout, he can actually no longer find oblivion even in drink: "he had not even got drunk" (78).
Predictably, Farrington takes out his anger on his son Tom who only attempts to please his father
Monotony of Routine
Farrington is trapped in a circle of frustration, restraint, and violence
Joyce ultimately portrays Dublin as the center of paralysis
Farrington makes a living copying documents, and thus demonstrates the dangerous potential of repetition
His work mirrors his social and home life, causing his anger—and abusive behavior—to worsen
The mother is missing in the story. She should have been there to protect the child, but she was at church.
Farrington's faith is amiss in “Counterparts.” The boy offers to pray for his father, yet it does not move Farrington at all...
“Don’t beat me, pa! And I’ll... I’ll say a Hail Mary for you... I’ll say a Hail Mary for you, pa, if you don’t beat me.... I’ll say a Hail Mary... (97)"
In the last scene of "Counterparts," Farrington's son reports that Mrs. Farrington is "out at the chapel." When Farrington begins to beat him, the boy desperately offers "I'll say a Hail Mary for you . . . " If not precisely to blame for Ireland's misery, the church certainly appears powerless against the forces paralyzing the culture.
Farrington uses his new-found money to buy round after round until - drunk - he begins to resent his friends as sponges (ironic because before pawning his watch, Farrington plotted on how to beg and borrow from his drinking companions)
Nothing will keep Farrington away from drink.
Even though he is in great danger of losing his job, he goes to the pub during the day for a drink to see him over until he can get out for his night of drinking
His future seems darker than his present.
While earlier he was emasculated by his boss, in the pub he is similarly diminished by young Weathers - this becomes a pattern...
The reader can infer that,
Poor, young Tom may very well be on his way to becoming a big, raging man just like Farrington
At one point, Farrington was just like Tom- helpless to an abusive, drunk father
When Farrington goes home drunk and beats one of his children, Tom
The readers can now fully recognize for Farrington for what he is: a bitter alcoholic who beats his wife and children
Farrington's anger and his selfish behavior are seen in a new, disturbing light because he is not the only one affected by them
Farrington's counterparts become evident
The word "counterpart" can refer to something complementary that functions to complete
The title “Counterparts”
suggests the antithetical structure of the story
the use of antithesis allow Joyce to show the antagonism between two contrasted world (the paralyzed Dublin and the energetic world outside Ireland).
the two “Counterparts” in this story are most probably Farrington and Alleyne
Joyce presents the family as a core element of the society
therefore it is not surprising that a rupture in family life has, in Joyce’s opinion led to the degradation of life in Dublin
Marriage, children, and career in Dublin equates to a monotonous routine
When Farrington pawns it (gives it away), he is disregarding the concept of time and escaping the constructs of reality, even if temporarily
Epitome of the violent man:
"A spasm of rage gripped his throat"
"His heart swelled with fury"
"He jumped up furiously... striking at him [Tom] viciously"
A desperate man - desperate for approval, desperate for attention, fearful that the night will finally end
Is faced with obstacles to his comfort, turns to intoxication as an outlet
Farrington's boss that is constantly nagging him
Three times in the same conversation he says, "Do you hear me now?"
As soon as Farrington enters the room, Mr Alleyne starts yelling, "What is the meaning of this? Why have I always to complain of you?"
"a little man wearing gold-rimmed glasses," with a head "like a large egg" (85)
"a middle-aged woman of Jewish appearance"
Has an ongoing case at Mr Alleyne's firm, and may be having an affair with him
First person to hear Farrington tell his story of making a joke at his boss' expense.
Co-worker of Farrington's
Arrives at the bar and re-tells Farrington's story.
Helps to keep Farrington from getting in a fight with the bartender who has made a comment about the arm wrestling match Farrington just lost
Secretary at the office where Farrington works
Chief clerk in Farrington's office
Humiliates Farrington in front of some clients by suggesting that he's drinking too much:
"Five times in one day is a little bit…Well, you better look sharp and get a copy of our correspondence… for Mr Alleyne. (87)"
artiste Farrington meets at the Scotch House through Paddy Leonard
Beats Farrington in two straight matches of arm wrestling
Farrington is a legal clerk and is given a deadline
for copying a contract... however, he sneaks out to go drinking instead out working
The clerk tells him that his boss, Mr. Alleyne needs the paperwork for the Delacour case and Farrington delivers the file, hoping that Mr. Alleyne won't notice that the last two letters are missing.
Mr. Alleyne yells at him about the missing letters, which Farrington insists he knows nothing about:
Mr. Alleyne: "...Do you think me an utter fool? (89)"
Farrington: "I don't think, sir, he said, that that's a fair question to put to me. (89)"
Farrington pawns his watch for six shillings of drinking money.
He and his friends drink, and then he starts bemoaning his impoverished life. He thinks of how he has spent his money on drinks, and he is not yet even drunk
"He had done for himself in the office, pawned his watch, spent all his money; and he had not even got drunk. (95)"
The night continues and the friends arm wrestle until Farrington accuses Weathers of cheating when he is defeated.
Farrington's anger continues to mount on his way home, where he vents his rage by beating one of his five children (Tom).
"He was full of smouldering anger and revengefulness. He felt humiliated and discontented... (95)"
Office of A Law Firm "Crosbie and Alleyne"
Source of paralysis for Farrington
He cannot get any work done and is constantly leaving the office to go drink
The tedium of work irritates Farrington
Various Dublin Drinking Pubs:
Farrington joins his companions (Nosey Flynn, O’Halloran, and Paddy Leonard) for a night of carousing
Desires to escape his dreary, monotone life through the consumption of alcohol
“The dark dim night was coming and he longed to spend it in the bars, drinking with his friends amid the glare of gas and the clatter of glasses. (88)”
“He felt his great body ache again aching for the comfort of the public house. (91)”
It is here that the reader begins to have deeper doubts about Farrington’s character
Farrington lives on Shelbourne Road, a lower-middle-class area southeast of the city center.
His anger is boiling at this point (in himself and the situation)
“He loathed returning to his home. (96)”
Bloom, Harold. James Joyce's Dubliners. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. Print.
Chrysostom, John, Wolcomb Robert, and Cottesford Thomas. An Excellent Treatise Touching the Restoring Againe of Him That Is Fallen. London: Printed for I. Helme, and Are to Be Sold at His Shop at S. Dunstans Church, 1609. Print.
French, Jonathan. Reminiscences of a Fifty-years Pastorate a Half-century Discourse: Delivered in North-Hampton, N.H., November 18, 1851.Portsmouth: C.W. Brewster & Son, Printers, 1852. Print.
Joyce, James, and Edna O'Brien. Dubliners. New York, NY: New American Library, 1991. Print.
Do you think the Farrington's actions are justified, given his situation? Why or why not? Be specific!
Can we blame the culture of Dublin, and ultimately society as a whole, for Farrington's actions? Or is he, the individual, that should be blamed?
Is Farrington a reliable narrator? Why or why not?
Do you think Mr. Alleyne should have been been more empathetic in his conversations with Farrington? What would you have said or done in Mr. Alleyne's place? Provide a specific example from the text.
Which parts of the Irish culture does Joyce regard in this story?