At the very beginning of the story, Joyce uses personification in his description of the narrator’s house and dead-end street:
An uninhabited house of two storeys stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbours in a square ground. The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces.
By imbuing the houses with human features, Joyce hints at the experiences of the Dubliners who live inside them. For example, he describes the narrator’s house as being detached from its “neighbors” the way that the narrator becomes, through his crush on Mangan’s sister, detached from his neighbors. While his friends on the block meet up to play in the street as the narrator once did, he has moved onto longing for his friend’s sister and therefore feeling isolated from those around him.
Joyce also personifies the houses on the narrator’s street when he writes that they are “conscious of decent lives within them” and that their “faces” are “imperturbable.” While reinforcing that the other houses (and the lives within them) seem less lonely than the narrator’s, this quote also notes that they are all still “brown,” a nod to the dull, lackluster nature of working-class Dublin. This suggests that even though the people who live in the other houses have “decent” lives, they are not vibrant or joyful. The narrator may be alone in the intensity of his isolation, but poor Dubliners on the whole are struggling to navigate the banality of their everyday lives.