Dubliners - Chapter: the Sisters

314 Words2 Pages
This passage contains a description of Father Flynn in his coffin. As he was in life, in death he is grotesque – at least from the narrator’s point of view, which is ironically at odds with Eliza’s opinion that he made such a beautiful corpse. The short paragraph is notable for its great number of adjectives, such as solemn, copious, large, truculent, grey, massive, black, cavernous and heavy, which not only describe the priest, but also create a moribund and oppressive atmosphere. The strongly visual description is enhanced by unusual olfactory imagery; the flowers, rather than being scented or perfumed, have a heavy odour. Even the delicacy of the scanty white fur that circles his head - with a hint of animal imagery- fails to alleviate the gloom of the scene, and seems to only contribute further to Father Flynn’s awfulness. The minutely detailed description reflects the boy’s scrutiny. Father Flynn’s size is emphasised by copious, massive and cavernous, and that he is dressed in his vestments as if for the altar and loosely holding a chalice reminds us of his role in the Church and his sad failure in that role, made explicit later when Eliza reveals that he had dropped the chalice. The somewhat unusual syntax of the first sentence seems to further depersonalise the priest. Rather than having the subject at the beginning of the sentence, the placement of There at the head of the sentence tends to indicate a display rather than a person. This one short paragraph reinforces all the implicit criticism in The Sisters. Father Flynn, as a representative of the Catholic Church and as a father figure, is huge, dominant, oppressive, pervasive but ultimately inert and ineffectual. In his coffin (an enclosed space somewhat akin to a confessional), the priest is the image of the kind of contagious paralysis that affects the lives and actions of so
Open Document