The Theme of Yearning for the Wrong Reasons in Three Short Stories: The Boarding House and The Dead by James Joyce, and Everyday Use by Alice Walker

A theme is a very important aspect to analyze in any story, A theme is an idea that is repeated throughout a story that holds meaning and importance. In a story, themes not only help the reader relate to text on a personal level, but also assist the reader in fully understanding the characters and their actions. The theme of yearning to want something for the wrong reasons holds importance in the following stories, “The Boarding House” and “The Dead” by James Joyce, and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker because it helps the reader relate to, and understand the characters‘ underlying need to control those around them. The character Mrs. Mooney, in “The Boarding House”, Gabriel, in “The Dead”, and Dee, in “Everyday Use” all struggle with feelings of loss of control and power throughout the stories, Mrs, Mooney, Gabriel, and Dee are all characters that want constant control of a person or situation because they feel entitlement and like to hold power.

In the story, “The Boarding House” by James Joyce, a strong female character, Mrs, Mooney, decides to open a boarding house after she divorces her alcoholic husband, Mrs. Mooney has a daughter named Polly and a son named Jack who also resides in the house with her, as well as many other people from the city. Polly was a former typewriter, but her mother forced her to leave the profession help do chores and cleaning around the boarding house, Eventually, Polly forms a romantic relationship with Mr, Dolan, one of the men living in the house, Mrs. Mooney was very unhappy when she found out that Polly had relations with a man there, but she decided to keep her distance before bringing attention to the situation.

Academic anxiety?
Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task
Get your paper price

124 experts online

Mrs. Mooney eventually decided to intervene and have an uncomfortable talk with her daughter Polly, After speaking with Polly, Mrs, Mooney insists on having a talk with Mr. Dolan, where she intends on pushing Mr. Dolan to marry her daughters Mrs, Mooney wants this man to marry her daughter, solely for her own selfish reasons. She wants Polly to marry someone well off and wants Polly to regain respect for the family, and “monly one reparation could make up for the loss of her daughter’s honor: marriage”. Mrs, Mooney strongly desires for her daughter to marry for the wrong reasons. This theme helps the reader understand Mrs, Mooney’s character flaw. Not only does Mrs. Mooney feel the need to control who her daughter marries, but she also feels entitled to make choices for her daughter. Her need to control explains the theme of why she wants her daughter to marry for all the wrong reasons, in the story “The Dead” by James Joyce, Gabriel, the protagonist, and his wife attend a party together.

After the party is over, Gretta admits something to Gabriel that infuriates himi Gretta hears a song as the party is ending that leaves her completely captivated. When Gretta and Gabriel return to the hotel later that night, Gabriel senses that Gretta is feeling “off,“ He feels angry because he does not know what is going on in her mind, and “…he longed to be the master of her strange mood” (“The Dead” 172). She finally bursts into tears and admits that many years ago, her former deceased boyfriend had sung to her the song she heard at the party. Her former boyfriend died from becoming ill after standing outside of her house in the freezing rain Gabriel realizes that he is not truly in love with Gretta, the way her former boyfriend was, and he really only likes to control hen He likes to feel powerfuli Gabriel wants to be with Gretta, not because he loves her, but because he likes to act as her “master.”

The theme of wanting something or someone is present in this story helps the reader understand Gabriel’s need to control his wife and feel entitled to her thoughts. In the story, “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, Dee has a much better life than her sister Maggie. Dee is returning home with her boyfriend to see her mother and sister Maggie. Maggie believes that, “,,her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, and that “no” is a word the world never learned to say to her”. At the end of the story, Dee asks her mother if she can have some old quilts that contained fabric from her grandmother‘s dresses. Her mother tries to direct her to take other quilts instead, but Dee insists that she wants the quilts made with her grandmother‘s clothingt Her mother then admits that she promised the quilts to Maggie, and Dee is taken aback with anger and surprise. Dee wanted the quilts just to hang them up, while her sister Maggie would put the quilts to use every day and cherish them, Dee wanted the quilts to display them and never use them, and she was furious when she did not get what she wanted.

She was used to having control and getting everything she wanted in life, Dee partly wanted the quilts because she felt like she was entitled to everything, and that no one would ever say no to her. The theme of yearning to want something for the wrong reasons can assist the reader in comprehending Dee‘s personality imperfections. “The Boarding House” and “The Dead” by James Joyce, and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker all have the theme of wanting something for the complete wrong reasons, This theme is important because it helps the reader understand each character’s controlling personality on a deeper level, and shows that no one is perfect and everyone has a flaw in his or her own charactert At some point in everyone‘s life, a person will want something or someone for an immoral purpose because we are all human and we make mistakes. In all three short stories, the theme of characters yearning to want something for the wrong reasons is important because it help the reader understand the characters’ controlling personalities.

This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

Need a custom essay sample written specially to meet your requirements?

Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

Order custom paper Without paying upfront

The Theme of Yearning for the Wrong Reasons in Three Short Stories: The Boarding House and The Dead by James Joyce, and Everyday Use by Alice Walker. (2023, May 11). Retrieved from