Joyces Clay an Explication Maria is a humble woman leading a life tinged with longing. She recognizes and values her independence, yet at the same time moves in a tide of inevitability towards the place molded out for her within the relatively staunch social caste system of Dublin. The substance of her individuality is put in jeopardy by is plasticity to external forces; she is a woman made of clay. It seems her calling within society is that of a nun, however it is evident that still flickering insider her is the dream to escape this imposed destiny, to live a life like the one depicted in the song she sings, I Dreamt that I Dwelt. The fundamental conflict between Maria's individuality and the pigeon holing forces of society is the
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If by the addition of the preceding characteristics we are made to feel Maria's predestination of ordination, we are made to feel the same by a similar process of charactoristical subtraction. Throughout the story Maria is depicted as a woman who somewhat hesitantly embraces the sort of asexuality required of a nun, hence a sort of subtraction of her sexuality. Physically, we see this very clearly: Maria's body is over and again drawn as something insubstantial, almost non-existent. The details that "Maria was a very, very small person." (Joyce, 95), had a "minute" (Joyce, 97) and "diminutive body" (Joyce, 97) all take away from her any kind of corporal sexuality or physical desirability.
The evidence of Maria's tendency to assume a certain asexuality mounts as we turn to the psychological. In the first of two different instances where Maria's destiny is invoked by the traditional Halloween gaming, we are confronted with this: "Lizzie Fleming said Maria was sure to get the ring and, though Fleming had said that for so many Hallow Eves, Maria had to laugh and say she didn't want any ring or man either; and when she laughed her grey-green eyes sparkled with disappointed shyness and the tip of her nose nearly met her chin." (Joyce, 97) In her display of "disappointed shyness" we can sense that somewhere behind