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"A Painful Case"

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Yasmeen Alsaqri

on 26 February 2014

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Transcript of "A Painful Case"

Minor characters:
Captain Sinico: The husband of Emily sinico, always traveling on business trips, encourages Mr. Duffys visits because he thinks that he is interested in his daughter, The idea of his wife being attractive or desirable never occurs to him. p113
Miss Mary Sinico: The Daughter of Mr.and Mrs Sinico. She tries to get her mother to stop drinking. p115
Waitress: Asks Mr duffy if the food is alright after he gets the letter
Minors cont.
James Lennon: Driver of the train engine that Mrs. Sinico gets hit by, and has been an employee for 15 yrs. p114
P. Dunne: Railway porter who stated that he made an attempt to stop Mrs. Sinico from crossing the railway, but was too late. p 114
Dr. Halpin: Assistan house surgeon of the city of Dublin Hospintal
Deputy Coroner: Described Mrs. Sinico's accident by saying, “it was a most painful case.”
Mr. James Duffy:
Lives in Chapelizod with a life of routine and order. p 107
Once his relationship with Mrs. Sinico grows beyond his comfort level he immediately ends it.
The death of Mrs. Sinico makes Mr. Duffy realize that his pursuit to maintain order in his life has only led him to loneliness.
Story Background:
Originally named "A Painful Incident"
"A Painful Case" is written about a real relationship that took place between James's brother Stanislaus Joyce.
James gave the Emily Sinico a Trieste name.
James used many of his brothers characteristics to describe Mr. Duffy.
Order leading to corruption:
The story begins with Mr. Duffy all on his own with complete order in his life. p. 107

Connection between disconnection and loneliness:
Mr. Duffy does not realize that secluding himself from the world will only lead to his loneliness until it is too late. p. 118
"A Painful Case"
By: Yasmeen A. & Matt H.


Major Characters:
Mrs. Emily Sinico:
A 43 year old married lady who at one point in the story was in a relationship with Mr. Duffy.
She causes this relationship to end when one day she grabs his hand and hold it up to her cheek. P 112
She then becomes an alchoholic, gets hit by a train, and dies.
Mr. Duffy leaves the normal order of his life and creates a "friendship" with Mrs. Sinico.
This "friendship" begins to grow into more than what he had expected.
Once it goes too far Mr. Duffy puts an end to this "friendship."
As a result of this termination Mrs. Sinico ends up dying.
After Mr. Duffy hears of her death he realizes that his want and need for order in his life has secluded him from the people around him, making him lonely.
This occurs immediately after Mrs. Sinico grabs Mr. Duffy's hand, where he decides to break off this friendship. p. 112
"He did not visist for a week; then he wrote to her asking her to meet him....They agreed to break off their intercourse: every bond, he said, is a bond to sorrow."
Turning Point:
Once Mr. Duffy learns of the death of Mrs. Sinico he comes to a new realization.
Secluding himself from the people has only made him lonely, and has only brought pain into the lives of others.
The names in this story portray the dark image of love and loneliness:
Duffy: comes from the Irish word for dark, reflecting on the manner in which the story unravels; also severing as a reflection of Mr. Duffy's life.
Chapelizod (the town he lives in): Comes from the French Chapel d’Iseult. Tristan and Iseult's doomed affair ranks as one of the most iconic love stories in literature and music.
The repetitive use of the colors yellow and brown symbolize decay:
"His face, which carried the entire tale of his years, was of the brown tint of Dublin streets. "
Symbols cont.
"Grey gleaming river." p. 118
Mr. Duffy's description of Mrs. Sinico's blue eyes. p. 109
"The eyes were very dark blue and steady."
Both Mr. Duffy and Mrs. Sinico find comfort in the dark.
"Many times she allowed the dark to fall upon them, refraining from lighting the lamp."
Mrs. Sinico getting hit by a train symbolizes the growth of industrialization through the extension of city life
Title: "A Painful Case"
Mr. Duffy chooses to live in Chapelizod, a Dublin suburb, in order to move away from city life and people.
Mr. Duffy compelling Mrs. Sinico to invite him over, so that nothing wrong would be understood from their meetings. Yet, neither of the other two family members were ever home. p. 110
Mr. Duffy's daily life
Life in Dublin
When Mr. Duffy is given the opportunity to connect with someone, which is out of his element, he grows paralyzed to this idea.
Mr. Duffy's refuses to change the life that he has created for himself after hearing of the death of Mrs. Sinico, despite his new revelations of guilt. He has grown paralyzed to the world around him.
Mr. Duffy's acts of seclusion from society make him invisible, nonexistent.
Mr. Duffy lives in a house with "lofty walls" an "uncarpeted room" that were "free of pictures." p. 107
He doesn't have people in his life. p. 109. "He had neither companions...cemetery when they died."
Value for human life p. 116 "Evidently she was unfit to live...which civilisation had been reared."
All around Chapelizod, a suburb of Dublin. This suburb was unlike other Dublin suburbs which were "mean, modern and pretentious." p.107

Relation to other stories:
• James Duffy lives in Chapelizod, an area outside of Dublin
• He thinks Dublin is full of “mean, modern, and pretentious people” (107)
• He is a banker, and his day is typically work, reading the newspaper, and eating at his favorite restaurant, and he does this consistently
• He enjoys music, and occasionally goes out to be entertained by concerts
• He has no friends, rarely spends time with his family, and is satisfied living in solitude
• • One night at the Rotunda, Mr. Duffy met a married lady by the name of Emily Sinico, and “He was surprised that she seemed so little awkward” (109)
• They engage in a conversation
• By coincidence, he meets her again at a few other concerts
• Then they began to visit each other more often

Plot cont.
• Meanwhile, Captain Sinico does not mind his wife visiting Mr. Duffy
• As they become more personal with each other, “Mrs. Sinico caught up his hand passionately and pressed it to her cheek” (112)
• Mr. Duffy felt uncomfortable during this incident, and explained to Mrs. Sinico that separation from each other is necessary for their own purposes
• Four years had passed, and Mr. Duffy is satisfied with his daily routines and his return to normalcy
• All of a sudden, one night affects Mr. Duffy’s emotions and feelings
• He read an article in the paper, that revealed the death of Mrs. Sinico

Plot cont.
• In the article, Mrs. Sinico most likely committed suicide, as a train struck her
• His first reaction was of shock, but soon realized what he had done
• He mourns over the death, and goes to the bar for a drink
• He realizes that, “His life would be lonely too…” (117)
• The story end with Mr. Duffy surrounded by darkness, thinking about how lonely and useless his life really was

"The Sisters"
• Mr. Duffy and the young boy heard about the deaths
• Mr. Duffy read the newspaper to find out Mrs. Sinico was dead
• It shows that neither character witnessed the deaths
• The young boy heard from Old Cotter that Father Flynn was dead
• Father Flynn and the young boy had an “unhealthy relationship”, according to Old Cotter
• Mr. Duffy thought he had an “unhealthy relationship with Mrs. Sinico
• Mr. Duffy believed that “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.” (112)
• Mr. Duffy’s first phrase refers to Old Cotter’s concern about the young boy and Father Flynn’s relationship, and his second phrase refers to his own relationship with Mrs. Sinico

"An Encounter"
• Mr. Duffy and the young boy meet their “encounter” at a desired event
• Mr. Duffy meets Mrs. Sinico at a concert
• The young boy meets the man in an open field
• Both Mr. Duffy and the young boy enjoyed an adventure they desired when they met another person in their life
• The similarity between the wild boys and Mr. Duffy is that escaping their daily routines result in life-changing feelings
• Mr. Duffy escapes his loneliness and solitary life to enter into a relationship with Mrs. Sinico
• In the end, he escapes back into his old ways of being lonely, except he brought along his guilt and broken heart after his experience with Mrs. Sinico, which he didn’t felt before.
• The wild boys escape their daily routines of going to school, to go on a Western adventure
• In the end, they escape back into their daily routines, except they bring along fear and a different perspective on life after they encounter the old man

• Both the narrator and Mr. Duffy experience feelings of guilt and sadness at the end of the stories that they failed in sustaining a relationship with another person whom they loved
• At the end, both Mr. Duffy and the narrator are surrounded by darkness and loneliness
• “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity” (Araby 30)
• “He felt that he was alone” (A Painful Case. 118)

• Seized by the past and fear of the future
• Mr. Duffy worries that his relationship with Mrs. Sinico will destroy his satisfaction of his past solitary life, and will move into a new dilemma of life with another human being
• Eveline decides not to go off with Frank into another stage of her life, but feels the guilt and content of staying with her family as she is used to of doing
• Mr. Duffy dismisses his relationship with Mrs. Sinico because he fears change in his life and his daily routines, involving his solitude.
• “It was hard work—a hard life—but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life. She was about to explore another life with Frank.” (Eveline 33)
• “he heard the strange impersonal voice which he recognised as his own, insisting on the soul’s incurable loneliness.” (A Painful Case. 112)

"After the Race"
• Alcohol and food play an important role in the selfish lives of both Mr. Duffy and Jimmy Doyle
• Jimmy spends most of his money eating and drinking, fulfilling his internal desires, while Mr. Duffy enjoys his daily meals, but is interrupted by the death of Mrs. Sinico
• Mr. Duffy realizes he did not satisfy himself with “life’s feast” (118), the love and relationship with other people he missed out on.
• Segouin had to use alcohol to end the bitter fight between Routh and Jimmy, showing the Irish desire for alcohol
• Mr. Duffy went to the bar for a drink, reflecting on Mrs. Sinico’s death and his failure of life as a lonely person

"Two Gallants"
• Both Mr. Duffy and Lenehan are haunted by their daily routines
• Lenehan “walked listlessly round Stephan’s Green and then down Grafton Street” (53) , showing his daily routine of his solitary life
• Mr. Duffy goes back to his normal routine “And still every morning he went into the city by tram and every evening walked home from the city after having dined…” (113).
• Both characters lose the value of life, and experience their loneliness by having the same routine everyday
• The bar is a symbol of personal reflection in both characters
• “As he sat there, living over his life... he realised that she was dead, that she had ceased to exist, that she had become a memory.” (A Painful Case. 117)
• “When he had eaten all his peas he sipped his ginger beer and sat for some time thinking of Corley’s adventure.” (54 Two Gallants)
• Both characters are thinking about their lives and how they can escape their loneliness.
• This is ironic because a bar is supposed to be a time of socializing and having a good time with other people, not a quiet, lonely place

"The Boarding House"
• Anti-feminism
• Both Polly and Mrs. Sinico are viewed as “weak women”, who become mentally ill over their lovers
• Polly contemplates suicide and cries over Mr. Doran.
• “Polly sat for a little time on the side of the bed, crying.” (A Boarding House. 66)
• Mrs. Sinico most likely committed suicide, but felt sad and mourned over her separation with Mr. Duffy
• “They had been married for twenty-two years and had lived happily until about two years ago when his wife began to be rather intemperate in her habits.” (A Painful Case. 115)
• Mr. Doran remained calm and confident when he was going to speak with Mrs. Mooney, and Mr. Duffy was satisfied when he left his lover, while continuing with his own life
• This shows Joyce’s view on how women feel mentally weak when they are separated with their lovers, while men are still strong inside and have the courage to feel isolated from their lovers

"A Little Cloud"
• Gallaher and Mr. Duffy share the same mindset of reputation and status
• They both wish to avoid marriage, and focus on their daily lives in the workplace and living alone
• Both characters despise the city of Dublin
• “he wished to live as far as possible from the city of which he was a citizen and because he found all the other suburbs of Dublin mean, modern, and pretentious.” (A Painful Case. 107)
• “When they heard I was from Ireland they were ready to eat me, man.” (A Little Cloud. 74).
• Joyce is poking fun at the immorality of Dublin in both stories
• When Mr. Duffy and Mrs. Sinico meet, one is not married (Mr. Duffy) and one is married (Mrs. Sinico)
• When Little Chandler meets Gallaher, one is married (Little Chandler), and one is not married (Gallaher)
• Both Mrs. Sinico and Little Chandler, who are married, are not happy with their marriage life
• This shows how Joyce is poking fun at the dissatisfaction of marriage life in Dublin

• Being an ongoing theme throughout most of the stories, alcohol represents relaxation and reflection for the mind
• Farrington goes to the bar to get a drink, to calm himself after he displeased Mr. Alleyne
• Mr. Duffy goes to the bar to get a drink, to calm himself after he realizes he was the cause of Mrs. Sinico’s death
• “Much to Farrington’s relief he drank a glass of bitter this time.” (Counterparts. 93)
• This is ironic because alcohol commonly represents the desire to act more wild and to socialize with other people, not to relax your body
• Mr. Farrington becomes frustrated with his daily routines of copying papers
• He also repeats the cycle of consuming alcohol daily
• Mr. Duffy soon realized his solitary life of daily routines affected the life of his lover.
• “He felt his moral nature falling to pieces.” (A Painful Case. 118)
• Repetition of life’s daily routines frustrates humans, like Mr. Farrington and Mr. Duffy

• Mr. Duffy and Maria live according to an organized structure of life
• If a unique event interrupts their daily routine, they become worried and start to panic
• Maria panics when she lost the plum cake, and blames the man on the tram, whom she had a conversation with
• Mr. Duffy condemns Mrs. Sinico for interrupting his daily routines, and believes that she would cause a dangerous change in his life, outside his organized structure of life
• “Maria, remembering how confused the gentleman with the greyish moustache had made her, coloured with shame and vexation and disappointment.” (103)
• Mrs. Sinico represents the man on the tram in the previous story because both characters were blamed for interrupting an organized order of living

Discussion Questions

• Do you think Mr. Duffy got married after the death of Mrs. Sinico?
• Did Mr. Duffy really love Mrs. Sinico, or was she just someone to talk to?
• Why did you think Captain Sinico did not mind his wife visiting Mr. Duffy?


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