The Dead

Gabriel Conroy Character Analysis

The story’s protagonist, a middle-aged Dublin teacher and writer. Gabriel’s name, which means “man of God” in Hebrew, carries Biblical significance, as it is the name of the angel who announces the coming of the Messiah to the Virgin Mary. He is Kate andJulia’s favorite nephew, and the son of their sister, Ellen, who has died. Gabriel seeks validation from the women in his life. His aunts continually praise him and he runs small errands for them in return. However, he allows his male pride and desire for female validation to distract him from having meaningful interactions with women, and he often fails to see how his words and actions affect the female characters. Additionally Gabriel is distracted by nostalgia, and fails to find passion in the present. He is very interested in England and the continent, and generally detests Dublin life. At the end of the story Gabriel comes to the realization that he has failed to find true love or passion in his life, and that he is on track to live a meaningless life and die a meaningless death.

Gabriel Conroy Quotes in The Dead

The The Dead quotes below are all either spoken by Gabriel Conroy or refer to Gabriel Conroy. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of The Dead published in 1993.
Section 1 Quotes

The girl glanced back at him over her shoulder and said with great bitterness: The men that is now is only palaver and what they can get out of you.
Gabriel coloured as if he felt he had made a mistake and, without looking at her, kicked off his galoshes…

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Gabriel Conroy
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Dead quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

He was undecided about the lines from Robert Browning for he feared they would be above the heads of his hearers…He would only make himself ridiculous by quoting poetry to them which they could not understand. They would think that he was airing his superior education. He would fail with them just as he had failed with the girl in the pantry.

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy, Lily
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit i

Section 2 Quotes

It was she who had chosen the names for her sons for she was very sensible of the dignity of family life. Thanks to her, Constantine was now senior curate in Balbriggan and, thanks to her, Gabriel himself had taken his degree in the Royal University. A shadow passed over his face as he remembered her sullen opposition to his marriage.

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy, Gretta Conroy, Gabriel’s Mother, Constantine
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum d

…Gabriel tried to banish from his mind all memory of the unpleasant incident with Miss Ivors. Of course the girl or woman, or whatever she was, was an enthusiast but there was a time for all things. Perhaps he ought not to have answered her like that. But she had no right to call him a West Briton before people, even in joke. She had tried to make him ridiculous before people, heckling him and staring at him with her rabbit’s eyes.

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy, Molly Ivors
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Gabriel took his seat boldly at the head of the table and, having looked to the edge of the carver, plunged his fork firmly into the goose. He felt quite at ease now for he was an expert carver and liked nothing better than to find himself at the head of a well-laden table.

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Those days might, without exaggeration, be called spacious days: and if they are gone beyond recall let us hope, at least, that in gatherings such as this we shall still speak of them with pride and affection, still cherish in our hearts the memory of those dead and gone great ones whose fame the world will not willingly let die.

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy (speaker)
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

But yet, continued Gabriel, his voice falling into a softer inflection, there are always in gatherings such as this sadder thoughts that will recur to our minds: thoughts of the past, of youth, of changes, of absent faces that we miss here tonight. Our path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living. … Therefore, I will not linger on the past. I will not let any gloomy moralizing intrude upon us here tonight. Here we are gathered together for a brief moment from the bustle and rush of our everyday routine.

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy (speaker)
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Section 3 Quotes

Their children, his writing, her household cares had not quenched their souls’ tender fire. In one letter that he had written to her then he had said: Why is it that words like these seem to me so dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy, Gretta Conroy
Related Symbols: Snow
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt molli

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est l

Was she annoyed, too, about something? If she would only turn to him or come to him of her own accord! To take her as she was would be brutal. No, he must see some ardour in her eyes first. He longed to be master of her strange mood.

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy, Gretta Conroy
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

While he had been full of memories of their secret life together, full of tenderness and joy and desire, she had been comparing him in her mind with another…He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous well-meaning sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealizing his own clownish lusts…

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy, Gretta Conroy
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culp

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis a

I think he died for me, she answered. A vague terror seized Gabriel at this answer as if, at that hour when he had hoped to triumph, some impalpable and vindictive being was coming against him, gathering forces against him in its vague world.

Related Characters: Gretta Conroy (speaker), Gabriel Conroy
Page Number: 221–222
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the glory of some passion than fade and wither dismally with age…He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love.

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteu

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in

The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead…His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling.

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy
Related Symbols: Light and Dark, Grey
Page Number: 224–225
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint o

Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

Related Characters: Gabriel Conroy
Related Symbols: Snow, Light and Dark
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire The Dead LitChart as a printable PDF.
The dead.pdf.medium

Gabriel Conroy Character Timeline in The Dead

The timeline below shows where the character Gabriel Conroy appears in The Dead. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
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 after ten o’clock and he is not usually late. They... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
Gabriel begins to think of the speech he is to give that night, questioning his choice... (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 hair are grey, 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.... (full context)
Section 2
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gabriel has trouble paying attention to Mary Jane’s piano piece, and as his gaze wanders he... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gabriel finds himself paired up with his colleague, Miss Ivors, for the next dance. She is... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
Miss Ivors then changes to a friendlier tone, and asks Gabriel to come on a trip to the Aran Isles in the coming summer. He declines,... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gretta joins Gabriel after the dance, and when he says Miss Ivors invited them both on a trip... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
On the way to the dining room, Gabriel sees Miss Ivors putting on her coat to leave. Gretta and Mary Jane are trying... (full context)
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
After everyone has been served, Gabriel sits down to eat, but does not participate in the conversation. The guests are discussing... (full context)
Death Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
Gabriel is the only man who does not eat the pudding, as he does not 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
Dessert is passed around and drinks are poured in preparation for Gabriel’s speech. In his speech he praises his aunts (calling Kate, Julia, and Mary Jane the... (full context)
Section 3
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
...everywhere.” They joke that Mr. Browne is all too available and none too useful. As Gabriel waits for Gretta to get her coat, Mary Jane remarks once again how cold the... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gabriel stands in a dark part of the hall, gazing up the staircase at a woman... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
...but still dark, with a dull light coming up over the houses and the river. Gabriel watches Gretta walking next to Mr. D’Arcy and feels sudden tenderness towards her. He begins... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gretta and Gabriel get out of the cab, and as she leans on him for support he is... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
While Gabriel is recounting an unremarkable story, Gretta suddenly kisses him tenderly on the lips. Gabriel feels... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Gabriel asks if Gretta wanted to go to Galway with Miss Ivors in order to visit... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Gabriel is seized with terror when Gretta tells him that the boy, Michael Furey, died for... (full context)
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Gabriel continues to watch Gretta, and sees her as though for the first time. He thinks... (full context)
Death Theme Icon
Gabriel suddenly feels very close to the world of the dead, and feels his own identity... (full context)