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The Boarding House - Class 12 Heritage of words

The Boarding House       James Joyce 



‘The Boarding House’ by James Joyce is the story of internal conflict between the self and different forces surrounding the self. It shows how the important decision of a man is influenced by different aspects such as social, financial, religious and psychological factors. Mr. Doran is obliged to propose Polly Mooney for marriage although he is not mentally prepared for it. His instinct urges him to remain free not to marry. It makes him feel that once he is married, he is done for. As for other reasons, she is the daughter of a disreputable father, a drunkard and her mother’s boarding house is beginning to have certain fame. Besides, Polly is little vulgar with a poor grammar. Above all, he has never been in such a deep and higher love with her that drives a man to discard everything for the sake of his beloved. His affair with her is the result of his inability to resist the physical attraction that coincided with her growing intimacy with him. Had she kept the distance with him and not entered his room at night alone in stimulating appearance, there would not have been any such relationship between them. He is not to be blamed altogether for what has happened. He can not make up is mind whether to like her or despise her for what she has done. He even longs to ascend through the roof and fly away to another country where he will never hear again of his troubles.
Despite these undeniable facts and the instinct of the celibate that warns him to hold back, he is under obligation to speak to her about marriage. He is forced to do so for many reasons. To begin with, Polly’s mother Mrs. Moony is a determined woman. She has all the weight of social opinion on her side. She could say that she has allowed him to live beneath her roof assuming that he is a man of an honor, and he has abused her hospitality. She could argue that he, being thirty four or thirty five years of age, can not plead for excuse in the name of youth and ignorance. She can even blame him that he has taken advantage of Polly’s youth and inexperience. Secondly he is influenced by the religious factor. At his confession, the priest has magnified his sin making him feel guilty. Thus his sense of guilt and honor makes him feel that reparation must be made for his sin. Thirdly, he knows that his refusal to marry Polly implies the loss of his job. He has been employed for thirteen years in a great Catholic wine merchant’s shop. He has to throw away everything: his industry, diligence and long years of service for nothing. Finally, his decision to marry Polly is influenced by his psychological fright and his concern for his security. He is aware of the fact that Jack, Polly’s brother, is violent who threatens to bite the throat of the one who plays with his sister.
On account of these reasons, he wants to propose Polly for marriage. His feelings of humiliation have nothing to do with this decision. The story reads like an illustration about the compromises of life. It has a touch of realism which is a matter of perception.


Important Questions from The Boarding House by James Joyce
Short Answer Questions

1. How do you think Mrs. Mooney settled with Mr. Doran about Polly? Did Mr. Doran marry Polly or pay out compensation? [2059] 2. Write an interpretation of the story, ‘The Boarding House’. [2060] 34


3. What was the major problem in the relation between Mr. Doran and Polly? [2069]


Long Answer Questions
1. Sketch the character of Mrs. Mooney. [2058, 2064] 2. Briefly narrate the story ‘The Boarding House’. [2063]
Glossary: [fame: when you are known by many people because of your achievement, vulgar: unholy, abusive, intimacy: special friendship or sexual relationship, stimulating: exciting (उत्तेजक), celibate: someone who does not have sex, diligence: when you work hard with care and effort, influenced: highly affected]


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