Duffy suffers from loneliness stemming from an inability or unwillingness to form connections with other people. Perhaps this pattern of missing connection stems from the anonymity of the urban environment. Perhaps it stems from the unique situation of the Irish. Perhaps it is a global condition afflicting everyone in the modern era.
Also, like many of the other characters who remain disconnected from other people, Mr.
Duffy does not know he is suffering from his isolation until he learns the one person he truly connected with is dead, and her loneliness killed her. Before he meets Mrs. Sinico, Mr. Duffy goes through his daily routine, eating in the same restaurants, spending his evenings reading or enjoying classical music. After he parts ways with Mrs.
Dubliners, by James Joyce
Sinico, he resumes his routine as if nothing happened, and four years pass before he is forced to confront the fact that he has lost something important when he loses her. While Mr. Duffy appears to be content with his isolated life on the surface, small hints appear that indicate he may crave a connection.
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When he first meets Mrs. Sinico, he studies her face in an attempt to commit it to memory. He is clearly interested in her, perhaps even attracted to her, from their first meeting. After they meet a few more times, he could easily content himself with the knowledge that she is someone he will see when he attends musical performances and leave it at that, but he initiates the meetings outside the concert scene.
After he and Mrs. Sinico stop seeing one another, Mr. Duffy reads books by Nietzsche, whose nihilist philosophy advocates a focus on the self and total self-reliance, because dependence on other people creates weakness and keeps a person from reaching their full potential. It is as if Mr. Duffy is trying to reassure himself he has made the right choices.
A Painful Case - Wikipedia
Sinico, by contrast, has no such illusions about her own loneliness and wishes to escape from it however she can. She initiates the conversation with Mr. Duffy that sparks their friendship, and happily invites him to her home. Her daughter is of the age when she has her own commitments and is not at home very often. Captain Sinico is frequently absent and has long since forgotten to look at his wife as a companion or as a source of desire. The abandonment from her family sends Mrs.
Sinico seeking connection elsewhere, and her starvation for affection in particular drives her to make a pass at Mr. Her decline after she and Mr. Duffy part ways shows she is even less able to cope with isolation after her relationship ends and she continues to seek an escape. This time, her escape is more typical. Her daughter tells the newspaper that her mother has been drinking heavily in recent months, and Captain Sinico describes his wife's behavior as "intemperate" in the last two years.
The mystery of whether Mrs. Sinico ended up in front of the train through a conscious choice or through a drunken mistake is rendered immaterial; the loneliness caused both. When Mr. Duffy rejects Mrs. Sinico's advance, it provides another indicator that he is less independent than he thinks he is. Duffy adheres to a strict moral code he believes is his own—he attends no church and tends to his spiritual life at home—but this morality falls under clear influences from church doctrine and societal expectations.
He refuses to commit adultery and make physical and official the emotional affair he has been having for months, which seems hypocritical despite his efforts to keep the relationship out of the shadows. His visits to Mrs.
by James Joyce
Sinico are well known, and in a strict sense their intellectual intimacy is already a betrayal of her marriage. Yet Mr. Duffy's concern with appearances and with traditional morals prevents both of them from finding happiness. Have study documents to share about Dubliners? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access! Download a PDF to print or study offline. Download Study Guide. In text Course Hero. Chicago Bibliography Course Hero. Click to copy. Whoa there. Mr Duffy doesn't visit for a week and then decides to have a last meeting with her in public so it doesn't get too messy.
She sends him back his books and that's that. After that, life goes on as it always did for Mr Duffy. He's back to his old routine of going to work and walking home. Until one night when he reads about Mrs Sinico's death in the newspaper.
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She had been "knocked down by the engine of the ten o'clock slow train from Kingstown, thereby sustaining injuries of the head and right side which led to her death" A Painful Case. The article goes on to explain that the real blame lay with Mrs Sinico and not with the train. She was out "late at night" and had "been in the habit of crossing the lines […] from platform to platform" A Painful Case. Her daughter even testifies that she'd recently started drinking a lot. Mr Duffy's first reaction is disgust: "she had degraded him. Then he thinks about it more and, as he goes in to get a drink at a pub, he remembers the whole relationship.
That's when he starts to get really bummed out. He retraces the steps of their old walks and "felt his moral nature falling to pieces" because he realizes that he had "sentenced her to death" A Painful Case. Melodramatic, much, buddy? He doesn't make it home by the end of the story, but stops walking at one point and is perfectly still: "He began to doubt the reality of what memory told him.
He halted under a tree and allowed the rhythm to die away. He could not feel her near him in the darkness nor her voice touch his ear. He waited for some minutes listening. He could hear nothing […] He felt that he was alone" A Painful Case. Cite This Page. Logging out…. Logging out You've been inactive for a while, logging you out in a few seconds