Sexual Terror and Forced Initiation: "An Encounter"

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Yun, Hee-Whan
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서울대학교 인문대학 영어영문학과
영학논집 21(1997): 53-70
The SistersPersia
If Joyce portrays in "The Sisters" the paralysing interaction between the agent and victim of corruption, as symbolized in the decline of Father Flynn and his moribund sisters, he dramatizes in "An Encounter" a full-fledged effort to escape from the depressing atmosphere of Dublin. If we confer on the boy-narrator the same identity of narrator of the previous story, his dream of escape is quite understandable, because he, feeling frustrated by elliptical language as much as by the stuffy conventionality of the adults, had already suggested "Persia" to himself as a positive alternative to the suffocating reality of Dublin. Of course, that does not necessarily mean that he has fully recognized the dynamics of paralysis permeating all the aspects of sordid Dublin, nor does his attempt for escape provide a practical outlet from the pyschological, mental and emotional plight in which Dubliners are supposedly trapped. His dream of escape turns out at best to be a boyish adventure, an oneday picnic, a way to get fresh air by getting away from a boring school and routine home. It is, however, significant because, unlike
many other stories in Dubliners, escape does occur in "An Encounter." Even if the boys, out on adventure, eventually return home in the evening, completing their attempt to escape on a limited scale, their impulse to esacpe makes a sharp contrast with that of adults of living death. Also, it is significant, in that this, like other boyhood stories, is concerned with the protagonist's growing awareness of reality, for better or for worse, through a succession of "encounters" with reality. Such a process of adaptation to society
and the internalization of its value system should provide a proper framework for initiation stories like "An Encounter."
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College of Humanities (인문대학)English Language and Literature (영어영문학과)영학논집(English Studies)영학논집(English Studies) No.21 (1997)
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