The Boarding House

by

James Joyce

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Polly Mooney Character Analysis

Mrs. Mooney’s 19-year-old daughter, who does housework around the boarding house. A “very lively” young woman, she flirts with all the resident young men. She seems to be the driving force behind her relationship with Mr. Doran, showing him little signs of care, then finally going to his room one night in her bathrobe, under the pretense of lighting her candle. In Mr. Doran’s company, Polly seems distraught that her mother has discovered the relationship, even threatening to kill herself, but as soon as she’s alone she escapes into cheerful hopes and visions of the future. Though Polly manipulates Mr. Doran, she herself is a victim of a very restrictive society that offers her no real opportunity to leave the family home except through marriage.

Polly Mooney Quotes in The Boarding House

The The Boarding House quotes below are all either spoken by Polly Mooney or refer to Polly Mooney. 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:
Social Manipulation vs. Social Paralysis Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Boarding House published in 1993.
The Boarding House Quotes

The belfry of George’s Church sent out constant peals and worshippers, singly or in groups, traversed the little circus before the church, revealing their purpose by their self-contained demeanour no less than by the little volumes in their gloved hands.

Related Characters: Mrs. Mooney, Polly Mooney, Mr. Doran
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

There must be reparation made in such cases. It is all very well for the man: he can go his way as if nothing had happened, having had his moment of pleasure, but the girl has to bear the brunt.

Related Characters: Mrs. Mooney, Polly Mooney, Mr. Doran
Page Number: 59-60
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

She waited on patiently, almost cheerfully, without alarm, her memories gradually giving place to hopes and visions of the future. Her hopes and visions were so intricate that she no longer saw the white pillows on which her gaze was fixed or remembered that she was waiting for anything.

Related Characters: Polly Mooney
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Polly Mooney Character Timeline in The Boarding House

The timeline below shows where the character Polly Mooney appears in The Boarding House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Boarding House
Social Manipulation vs. Social Paralysis Theme Icon
Female Innocence vs. Female Cunning Theme Icon
Mrs. Mooney’s daughter, 19-year-old Polly, previously worked as a typist for a local corn trader, but her mother ended the... (full context)
Social Manipulation vs. Social Paralysis Theme Icon
Female Innocence vs. Female Cunning Theme Icon
Under Mrs. Mooney’s watchful eye, Polly flirts with the boarding house’s residents. When none of the flirtation progresses into anything more,... (full context)
Social Manipulation vs. Social Paralysis Theme Icon
Female Innocence vs. Female Cunning Theme Icon
Mrs. Mooney silently watches the relationship develop. Polly knows her mother is observing her, but the two never discuss the affair. Though the... (full context)
Female Innocence vs. Female Cunning Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Sin Theme Icon
...table and lock up the sugar and butter, then recalls the conversation she had with Polly the night before, in which she confirmed that her relationship with Mr. Doran had gone... (full context)
Social Manipulation vs. Social Paralysis Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Sin Theme Icon
...much to shave. He suffers acute pain every time he remembers confessing his affair with Polly to the priest the previous night, and the way the priest “had drawn out every... (full context)
Social Manipulation vs. Social Paralysis Theme Icon
Mr. Doran goes on to imagine his employer finding out about his affair with Polly, which could result in him losing his job. He feels that after growing out of... (full context)
Social Manipulation vs. Social Paralysis Theme Icon
Mr. Doran is ashamed of his own indiscretion and also a little of Polly herself. He anticipates his family looking down on her because of her disreputable parents, and... (full context)
Female Innocence vs. Female Cunning Theme Icon
Polly comes to Mr. Doran’s bedroom, crying, and explains that she’s told her mother everything. She’s... (full context)
Social Manipulation vs. Social Paralysis Theme Icon
Female Innocence vs. Female Cunning Theme Icon
...Mr. Doran that Mrs. Mooney would like to speak to him downstairs. Mr. Doran comforts Polly one last time and then goes downstairs, terrified. As he descends, he pictures his employer’s... (full context)
Social Manipulation vs. Social Paralysis Theme Icon
Female Innocence vs. Female Cunning Theme Icon
In the bedroom, Polly’s tears dry very quickly, and she soon seems quite calm. She waits “patiently, almost cheerfully,”... (full context)