Symbolism In Clay By James Joyce

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J.K Rowling once said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all”. She explains to the audience that failure is an inevitable aspect of life. In other words, purposefully living a life of routine is useless since everyone faces setbacks. More importantly, Rowling states that a cautious life is not a life at all because it restricts one 's ability to explore within them and discover new values. Maria, the protagonist of “Clay” by James Joyce, struggles to grasp this concept. She is a kind, single woman who works at a Protestant church that assists the troubled. In the story, Maria spends her day preparing for an Irish Hallow’s Eve party using her meticulous …show more content…
Shown later in the text, the simple symbol of the blindfold expresses the protagonist 's lack of cognizance. It is first shown when the crowd blindfolds Maria for the traditional divination game: “They insisted then on blindfolding Maria and leading her up to the table to see what she would get...” (Joyce 67). The blindfold accurately represents Maria’s blindness to her future and her enjoyment. Her destiny is right in front of her, but her lack of awareness clouds her ability to change it. Without any joy, Maria is unknowingly creating an incomplete life for herself. Everyone around her acknowledges this and expresses their feelings through various remarks and actions, yet Maria cannot register these hints since she is so concentrated on perfection. Likewise, Maria is unable to see her surroundings when wrapped with the blindfold. Although she helps others with their problems, she cannot see her own. The symbol of the blindfold accurately reveals Maria 's ignorance of her dreary life and its …show more content…
Joe, a man Maria nursed as a motherly figure, also demonstrates the theme through the resolution. His unusual reaction to the song embodies his desperation to avoid reality: “...his eyes filled up so much with tears that he could not find what he was looking for and in the end he had to ask his wife to tell him where the corkscrew was” (Joyce 67). Brought to tears by the music, Joe finally understands the extremity of Maria’s sadness. To deter from the scene, he begins to look for a corkscrew, an inconsequential, household item. Instead of confronting Maria about his realization, he chooses to hide his emotions. As described by the theme, people often preoccupy themselves with inessential actions to suppress their most difficult problems in life, just as Joe attempts to do in the story. The author uses Joe’s behavior in the denouement as a final closure for the significant theme represented throughout

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