The anonymity of the boy is suggestive of the overall theme of the story, the insignificance of the individual in the larger society. The boy is unnamed because as the story demonstrates in any number of ways, he is unimportant. He lives with relatives who are not his parents which suggests a problem; it is likely the parents have made the crossing and are not yet established to bring the child over, though another possibility is that they have died as a result of the harshness of Irish life. Other suggestions of insignificance include the i... Read more →
This portrait of Dublin and its people is not always a flattering one. Joyce never romanticizes poverty, and explores how need and social entrapment adversely affect character. He sees his hometown as a city divided, often against itself, and the aura of defeat and decline pervades every tale. He is often deeply critical of Irish provinciality, the Catholic Church, and the Irish political climate of the time. But the collection is called Dubliners, not Dublin. Joyce does not merely write about conditions. The real power of Dubliners is Joyce's depiction of the strong characters who live and work in this distinctive and bleak city.
I also would like to add one but cannot remember the title. Two boys from different gangs have to settle a disagreement by playing Russian Roulette. As they talk, they realize how much they have in common. As they continue to talk, they become sort of friends and agree that they don't need to play the Roulette game with the live bullet in the gun. Of course they do it one last time, and that is when the gun fires, killing one of the two. One of the characters is named Dave, I think. Students could talk about the craziness of guns etc. Interesting lists.