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James Joyce’s short story entitled Clay that was first published in Dubliners in 1914 may be contrite but it left a large room for its reader to interpret his story. Taking the story literally, it may sound as a simple story of an old maid who felt bad of losing her cake…
The reader is left with the question that there were many objects in the story yet Joyce made the clay central to the story that it even became its title. This only suggests that the story should not only be read literally but also allegorically whose symbolisms should be accounted and interpreted to fully understand and appreciate the story.
Literary experts interpret Joyce’s short story differently. These differences in their interpretation were perhaps borne of the story’s shortness and dearth of definite meanings that it leaves it readers to interpret it in several ways. It may have been intentional or unintentional but it is important to note that in a personal interview with James Joyce by Vanity Fair, he mentioned that readers should not take him too seriously. This may be another allegorical answer or perhaps the writer is too much a genius for what is mirth to him is considered a scholarly inquiry in the generations that succeded him to interpret what he really meant in his short story Clay.
Of these authors that attempted to interpret the meanings of Joyce’s Clay, the paper will cite two authors, namely William Noon, S.J. who interpreted the short story under the lens of spirituality and religion where Marie was taken as a “saint” as well as a “woman” and Margot Norris who took the story as a strong expression of desire in human discourse and human lives. The variation of their interpretation may have been due to the different point of references they made in the novel. For Noon’s religious interpreation, this may have been due to the reference of Mrs. Donnely’s remark that Maria would enter a convent before the year was out becasue she had got the prayer-book. This remark might have explained why Maria had been single all those years. For Norris on the other hand, it may be the circumstance of Maria being ...
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