The Boarding House

-James Joyce


            Mrs. Mooney and her husband had a butcher's shop. Her husband drank a lot of alcohol and spent all of their money. After a difficult marriage with a drunken husband that ends in separation, Mrs. Mooney opens a boarding house to make a living. Her son, Jack, and daughter, Polly, live with her in the house. Mrs. Mooney runs a strict and tight business and is known by the lodgers as "The Madam." Polly, who used to work in an office as a typewriter, now stays at home at her mother's request, to amuse the lodgers and help with the cleaning which is surrounded by so many young men, Polly inevitably, develops a relationship with one of them, Mr. Doran. Mrs. Mooney knows about the relationship, but instead of sending Polly back to work in the city, she monitors its developments. Polly becomes increasingly uncomfortable with her mother's lack of intervention, but Mrs. Mooney waits until "the right moment" to intercede. First she speaks awkwardly with Polly, and then arranges to speak with Mr. Doran on a Sunday morning.

            Mrs. Mooney looks forward to her confrontation, which she intends to "win" by defending her daughter's honor and convincing Mr. Doran to offer his hand in marriage. Waiting for the time to pass, Mrs. Mooney figures the odds are in her favor, considering that Mr. Doran, who has acquired much respect, will choose the option that least harms his career.

Meanwhile, Mr. Doran anguishes over the awaiting meeting with Mrs. Mooney. As he 'clumsily grooms himself for the appointment, he reviews the difficult confession to his priest that he made on Saturday evening, in which he was harshly reproved for his romantic affair. He knows he can either marry Polly or run away, the latter an option that would ruin 'his sound reputation. Convincing himself that he has been duped, Mr. Doran bemoans Polly's unimpressive family, her ill manners, and her poor grammar, and wonders how he can remain free and unmarried.  In this irritated moment Polly enters the room and threatens to end her life out of unhappiness. In her presence, Mr. Doran begins to remember how he was bewitched by Polly's beauty and kindness, but he still wavers about his decision.

            Uneasy, Mr. Doran comforts Polly and departs for the meeting, leaving her to wait in the room. She rests on the bed crying for a while, neatens her appearance, and then nestles back in the bed, dreaming of her possible future with Mr. Doran. Finally, Mrs. Mooney interrupts the dream by calling to her daughter. Mr. Doran, according to Mrs. Mooney, wants to speak with Polly.


The story ‘The boarding house’ is written by Irish writer JAMES. JOYCE. Joyce is a modernist writer who depicts the consciousness of modern human beings through his character. His story the boarding house reflects the psyche of adolescence and social importance of marriage. In the story marriage offers promise and profit on the hand and entrapment and loss upon on the other SIMPLE AFFAIR BECOMES A TRACTIAL GAME of obligation for Mr. Doran, Marriage is more about social standards, public perception, formal sanctions then more feelings. Mrs. Mooney her son and daughter polly and Jack Mooney as well as Mr. Doran are the main character who are used by james Joyce to reflects the Irish society. Mrs. Mooney uses her daughter Polly Mooney to manipulate and entrapped Mr. Doran.

            Mrs. Mooney who is the owner of A Boarding house is a daughter of  butcher who weds with helper of his father. After they got married Mrs. Mooney and her husband open a butcher shop in dublin. After few years her husband become a drunkard and ruined the business. In one night he came with the knife to kill MRS. Mooney. After that Mrs. Mooney went to the priest and got a separation from him. She took the responsibility of her two children for her living Mrs. Mooney opened a Boarding house where different young man and the tourist come to live. All the resident of the boarding house called her as the madam. Mrs. Mooney son Jack worked as a clerk to a commission agent. Her daughter Polly Mooney was a typist in a corn factors office frequently, Mrs. Mooney told her to dis join her job. After that , Polly Mooney began to help her mother in the boarding house. She also began to flirt the young boys. Although Polly fail to attract the other young boys, she got success to get the attention of Mr. Doran. Mr. Doran was a almost thirty five years young man. He worked inthe shop of merchant of alcohol. His social prestige was high in the bublin city\. Although the neighbourhood people as well as the guest of Mooney’s boarding house talked a lot about the affair of Polly Mooney and Mr. Doran. Mrs. Mooney remain silent one day Mrs. Money called her daughter and asked her relation with Mr. Doran. In one of the Sunday morning of the summer Polly Mooney entered in the room of Mr. Doran and began to weep. She also reveal that she had already talked about their relation with her mother. During that time Doran hade made two attempts two shaves but his hands were shaking. He began to thinks about his future. As he had already taken the advantage of Polly in experience and youth he should be ready for compensation. As everyone knew the business of Poley Mooney and Doran he had no way out. Then Doran recalled his passed days which he waged with Polly. Although he had enough money to settle his life in Dublin city, he did not like to wed Polly he should dis joint his job. He was also mindfull about the nature of Jack Mooney. Everywhere Doran fall in the cage which was by Mooney. While he was called by Mrs. Mooney He wasswinging in the delirium. When Doran talked with Mrs. Mooney he might be coming to wait Polly Mooney to convince Doran Mrs. Mooney might have talked about the extramarital relation of Doran and Polly Mooney. When the people of her boarding house and the neighbours knew their relation than only Mrs. Mooney talked with Doran. Although he may not have desire to wait Polly Mooney, he had not other way out. So, he might have reluctantly un willingly accepted the proposed of Mrs. Mooney to wed her daughter .in this way MR. Doran fell in trap the conspiracy of Mrs. Mooney. Due to her unsuccessful married life, Mrs. Mooney might have desire to bond the relation with the man of middle class. At last she got success to maintain a relationship with the middle class which helps to uplift the prestige of Mooney’s family. The marriage of Polly Mooney and Mr. Doran does not refers to the union of desires rather it is a social status marker.

  1. Sketch the character of Mrs. Mooney.

Mrs. Mooney was a daughter of a butcher. She got married with the foreman of his father. After the death of his father Mr. Mooney indulged himself in drinking wine. She divorced him and opened a boarding house. She was courageous and perspicacious. She run her business with a great success. She had a daughter and a son who were under her control.

Her daughter Polly fell in love with a person who occupied her boarding house. He was Mr. Doran. Mrs. Mooney interviewed her daughter and found the truth. She called Mr. doran and setteled the matter agreeing him to marry her daughter Polly. 

Mrs. Mooney was tactful to do the business. She had many customers including artistes and business pepoel of different sort. Mr. doran was one of them. She studied about Mr. Doran and did not pay much attention to his steps in the beginning. When the matter between Mr. Doran and Poly was rife around everywhere she called him persuaded him in a very diplomatic way.

In this way, Mr. Mooney was a good wife, good mother and a successful business woman. She took care of her children in the absence of her husband. She was a woman of courage and confidence.

  1. How do you think Mrs. Mooney settled with Mr. Doran about Polly? Did Mr. Doran marry Polly or pay out compension?

Mrs. Mooney was an astute business woman. She had learned her business ethics from her father. When she started her business of boarding house she used her cleaverst business technics and got success. Mr. Doran was one of the visitior of the boarding house. He had a good job in a wine merchant’s office.

When he came here in this boarding house he saw Polly and fell in love. They also shared some feelings and loved eachother physically. Their secret activities were closely followed by  Mrs. Mooney. Mr. Doran was a best husband for Miss Polly who did not know how to pronounce some words. Polly’s father was a drunkard and a notorious man. For Mr. Doran this family was not up to the mark for extending any marital relationship.

Afterall, Mrs. Mooney called Mr. Doran and settelled the matter threatening him. He had a respectable job in an office. His any such involvement in the matter of girls would definitely lead to terminate his job. He found himself between the devil and the deep sea how had no other way than to accept and marry Polly.

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