After the Race

by

James Joyce

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Villona is a poor, but talented, Hungarian pianist who is one of the six men who make up the partying group along with Jimmy Doyle. He also serves as a symbolic representative as Hungary and as a foil character for Jimmy Doyle. Joyce uses the contrast between Villona and Jimmy to illustrate his opinion of how the Irish should act in order to progress as a country. At the time that the story was written, Hungary had secured some governmental and fiscal independence from Austria, the country that had been ruling them, in the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 (although Joyce appears to be glorifying the reception of this political arrangement, as many Hungarians actually bitterly resented it and Hungary did not achieve total independence until 1918). While Jimmy is fixated on getting attention from his continental companions and on keeping up in their capitalist pursuits, Villona is satisfied with meeting his needs (glimpses into his consciousness reveal a focus on food) and exploring his artistic pursuits. Instead of talking about cars and capital at dinner, he tries to engage an uninterested Routh in a discussion about old English songs and instruments. While the other men play cards, he plays the piano and even leaves the cabin when they gamble, actions that demonstrate his disinterest in participating in the money games of the other men and his prioritization of art. Villona’s decision to not participate in their capitalist schemes illustrates how the country of Hungary is acting independently—fiscally, politically, and socially—from the other national powers that would otherwise control them. Villona offers a juxtaposition to Jimmy that serves to more clearly reveal Jimmy’s (and the Irish’s more generally) desperate dependance on other countries’ socioeconomic structures and approval. Additionally, while Jimmy is “too excited to be genuinely happy,” Villona is “an optimist by nature,” which suggests that Villona, because of his freedom from the insidious nature of capitalism, actually experiences happiness and is spared the spiritual despair that haunts Jimmy and, by extension, the Irish.

Villona Quotes in After the Race

The After the Race quotes below are all either spoken by Villona or refer to Villona. 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:
Ireland at the Beginning of the 20th Century Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of After the Race published in 1993.
After the Race Quotes

Near the bank Ségouin drew up and Jimmy and his friend alighted. A little knot of people collected on the footpath to pay homage to the snorting motor.

Related Characters: Charles Ségouin, Jimmy Doyle, Villona
Related Symbols: Car
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

He knew that he would regret in the morning but at present he was glad of the rest, glad of the dark stupor that would cover up his folly. He leaned his elbows on the table and rested his head between his hands, counting the beats of his temples. The cabin door opened and he saw the Hungarian standing in a shaft of grey light:

—Daybreak, gentlemen!

Related Characters: Villona (speaker), Jimmy Doyle, Villona
Page Number: 41-42
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire After the Race LitChart as a printable PDF.
After the Race PDF

Villona Character Timeline in After the Race

The timeline below shows where the character Villona appears in After the Race. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
After the Race
Capitalism, Commodification, and Amorality Theme Icon
...be the manager of Ségouin’s company. The third man is an optimistic Hungarian man named Villona who is still feeling content from his delicious lunch. The final man is named Doyle,... (full context)
Wealth and Greed vs. Citizenship Theme Icon
Capitalism, Commodification, and Amorality Theme Icon
...Jimmy, too. Both Jimmy and his father agree that Ségouin is a person “worth knowing.” Villona, on the other hand, is poor, but he is a talented piano player and is... (full context)
Ireland at the Beginning of the 20th Century Theme Icon
Wealth and Greed vs. Citizenship Theme Icon
...speaking in French and laughing to each other. Jimmy, who is in the backseat with Villona, has a hard time understanding what they are saying and has to lean forward to... (full context)
Ireland at the Beginning of the 20th Century Theme Icon
Wealth and Greed vs. Citizenship Theme Icon
Capitalism, Commodification, and Amorality Theme Icon
When they arrive in Dublin, Ségouin drops Jimmy and Villona off at the bank. The car draws lots of attention from passersby, who gather “to... (full context)
Wealth and Greed vs. Citizenship Theme Icon
Capitalism, Commodification, and Amorality Theme Icon
...often unpurchaseable.” Jimmy’s father is in such good spirits that he is “unusually friendly” with Villona and speaks of his admiration for “foreign accomplishments.” Villona, however, isn’t listening; he is hungry... (full context)
Wealth and Greed vs. Citizenship Theme Icon
Capitalism, Commodification, and Amorality Theme Icon
....and a just one.” The five men talk loudly and with increasingly less reserve. While Villona discusses the value of old instruments with the unenthused Routh, Rivière begins to speak to... (full context)
Ireland at the Beginning of the 20th Century Theme Icon
Capitalism, Commodification, and Amorality Theme Icon
After the dinner, Ségouin, Jimmy, Rivière, Routh, and Villona take a walk by Stephen’s Green (a public park), where they smoke and talk. It... (full context)
Wealth and Greed vs. Citizenship Theme Icon
Capitalism, Commodification, and Amorality Theme Icon
When they get to the yacht, Villona starts playing the piano that is in the cabin. He plays waltzes and songs for... (full context)
Ireland at the Beginning of the 20th Century Theme Icon
Wealth and Greed vs. Citizenship Theme Icon
Capitalism, Commodification, and Amorality Theme Icon
Jimmy, Ségouin, Rivière, Farley, and Routh begin to play cards while Villona plays the piano. The games continue end-to-end while the players keep drinking. As they play,... (full context)
Ireland at the Beginning of the 20th Century Theme Icon
Wealth and Greed vs. Citizenship Theme Icon
Capitalism, Commodification, and Amorality Theme Icon
...he isn’t even sure of how much money he has bet away. He realizes that Villona is no longer playing the piano and is likely outside on the deck. At last,... (full context)