The Dead

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Kate Morkan (Aunt Kate) Character Analysis

Gabriel’s aunt, who lives and is hosting the dinner party with her sister Julia, and niece, Mary Jane. She is a musician who gives piano lessons in their home, since she is “too feeble to go about much.” As far as physical appearance goes, Kate seems to be the most lively of Gabriel’s aunts, with a face like a “red apple” and a long braid of a “ripe nut color.” Kate feels strongly about the Catholic Church’s decision to ban women from church choirs, but she is conflicted because she also believes the pope is infallible. She downplays her own opinions about this to avoid offending others, even though she feels passionately about the issue.

Kate Morkan (Aunt Kate) Quotes in The Dead

The The Dead quotes below are all either spoken by Kate Morkan (Aunt Kate) or refer to Kate Morkan (Aunt Kate). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Dead published in 1993.
Section 2 Quotes

I know all about the honour of God, Mary Jane, but I think it’s not at all honourable for the pope to turn out the women of the choirs that have slaved there all their lives and put little whipper-snappers of boys over their heads. I suppose it is for the good of the Church if the pope does it. But it’s not just Mary Jane, and it’s not right.

Related Characters: Kate Morkan (Aunt Kate) (speaker), Mary Jane
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

This is perhaps the text’s most obvious commentary on the role of women. Aunt Kate is clearly opposed to the Catholic Church’s decision to ban women from church choirs, but as a Catholic, she also feels unable to dispute the pope’s infallibility. She concedes that it must be for the “good of the Church” since it was the pope who made the decision, but clearly feels passionately against this decision. This highlights the role of women in Dublin society. Aunt Kate is forced to accept this decision if she wants to continue following her religion, and thus must diminish her own views and even her willingness to voice them. She is forced to become a hypocrite, by a hypocritical society.

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Kate Morkan (Aunt Kate) Character Timeline in The Dead

The timeline below shows where the character Kate Morkan (Aunt Kate) appears in The Dead. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Death Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
The story opens in the midst of Kate and Julia Morkan’s annual Christmas party, with the caretaker’s daughter Lily taking the male party... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
Kate and Julia are starting to wonder where their nephew Gabriel is, as it is already... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
Julia, Kate, and Gretta interrupt Gabriel’s thoughts as they exit the dressing room. Aunt Julia’s face and... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gabriel and Gretta’s conversation with Julia and Kate is interrupted by the arrival of Freddy Malins. Aunt Kate asks Gabriel to go keep... (full context)
Section 2
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
...when Mary Jane makes a comment about singing for the honor of God and Aunt Kate snaps, bringing up the Catholic Church’s recent decision to ban women from the choirs. Kate... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
...more. Gabriel wonders if he caused her hasty departure but soon dismisses the notion. Aunt Kate enters looking for Gabriel, as it is time to carve the goose. Gabriel feels like... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
...are poured in preparation for Gabriel’s speech. In his speech he praises his aunts (calling Kate, Julia, and Mary Jane the “Three Graces”) and recognizes their hospitality, attributing it to an... (full context)
Section 3
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
The guests are gathered in the hall preparing to leave, and Aunt Kate requests that someone close the door so that Mrs. Malins does not catch a cold... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
...Julia and Miss O’Callaghan remark that they both love how the snow looks, but Aunt Kate adds that Mr. D’Arcy doesn’t like the snow. Gabriel watches his wife, who seems distracted... (full context)