The Dead


James Joyce

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Windows Symbol Icon

Windows indicate separation, and in “The Dead” this is the separation between warmth and cold, between outside and inside. Windows also serve as a metaphorical barrier between the living and the dead, and between passion and emptiness. In the very last scene, there is a “ghostly light” coming in through the window in the hotel room. That ghostly light eventually becomes a metaphor for Gabriel’s epiphany – the light symbolizes his realization, and the fact that it is “ghostly” is due to the morbid nature of his epiphany. It is also the sound of snow falling against the window that spurs Gabriel’s realization about mortality.

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Windows Symbol Timeline in The Dead

The timeline below shows where the symbol Windows appears in The Dead. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 2
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Ireland, Anti-Nationalism, and the Foreign Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
...declined such an offer. Gretta leaves to go socialize and Gabriel’s attention turns toward the window, where he can see that the snow has covered everything outside. He imagines how pleasant... (full context)
Section 3
Jealousy and Male Pride Theme Icon
Nostalgia and the Past vs. the Present Theme Icon
Women and Society Theme Icon
...that they have enough light from the street, and indeed a “ghostly light” from the window fills the room. Gabriel looks out the window and tries to subdue his feelings of... (full context)
Death Theme Icon
...his own identity fading into this “grey impalpable world.” He hears snow falling against the windowpane and turns to see “silver and dark” snowflakes contrasting with the lamplight. He realizes that... (full context)