The first story is entitled The Sisters. The narrator is a young boy who is coming to terms with the death of an old friend an elderly priest. His mother brings him to the wake where he finds himself sitting with the two sisters of the dead priest. Through their conversation the young boy learns about the priest’s behavior and how he had certain scruples about his use of the sacred vessels during the mass.
This story also deals with a young teenage boy who is playing hookey with his pal. They encounter a strange man who from his conversation seems to take delight in whipping boys.
This is another story which deals with a young man. This time the young man is in the throes of passion and hoping to win a young girl’s affections he wants to buy her a gift at Araby an Orientalist bazaar. When he goes to Araby eventually he is disappointed.
Eveline is a young nineteen-year-old girl who lives with an alcoholic and abusive father. She is forced to rear the family but is hoping to emigrate with her boyfriend to Buenos Aires. The story dramatizes her desire to take flight and yet her fear to take the plunge. At the conclusion she remains at home with her family.
After the Race
Jimmy Doyle is the son of a nouveau-riche merchant. Jimmy tries to keep up with the lifestyle of his wealthy and sophisticated friends. At the conclusion of the story he ends up losing badly in a card game.
Two fellows called Corley and Lenehan plot to use a ‘slavey’ or a young working woman to get money. Corley goes off to meet her while Lenehan goes into a seedy restaurant and begins to reflect on his wasted life. At the conclusion Corley returns with the gold coin which the ‘slavey’ has given him.
The Boarding House
Mrs. Mooney is the owner of a boarding house. She tricks a young respectable man called Mr. Doran into marrying her feckless daughter Polly.
A Little Cloud
Little Chandler drinks with Gallagher who is an old friend now living in London. Chandler realizes that he will never be able to become a poet as it is too demanding on family life.
Farrington is an alcoholic who is frustrated in his job as he does not get on with his boss. Farriington goes to the pub and gets drunk. He is humiliated as a result and returns home and takes it out on his son by beating him.
Maria is an older Catholic woman who spends Halloween Eve with Joe Donnelly. During the Divination Game she picks up clay which is a symbol of death.
A Painful Case
James Duffy has an affair with Mrs. Sinico and unhappily married woman. They are inhibited in their relationship and after a while they split up. Later on he reads about her death in a tram accident.
Ivy Day in the Committee Room
A few political canvassers meet in a committee room one day. We learn about Jack and Mr. O Connor who are working for money rather than any real political development. The story shows a picture of Irish political life and how nationalism seems to have lost its force. The committee room is full of men with divided loyalties.
Mrs. Kearney is a domineering woman who has become involved with Erie Abu and its attempts to mount a musical production. When this flops she threatens to ruin the performance if her daughter is not paid the contractual fee that was promised.
Mr.Kernan is a man struggling with alcoholism. His wife, with the help of some of his friends, convince him to go on a retreat. The priest on the retreat in his homily tells the men to use God’s grace in order to set things right by God’s account.
This is the most important story in the whole collection. In many ways it gathers together the themes that are articulated in the early stories. Gabriel is a young middle class school teacher who arrives at the annual Christmas party hosted by his two maiden aunts. He is married to a woman called Gretta. At the party Gabriel meets a young Irish nationalist called Miss Ivors who accuses him playfully of being a West Brit. Gabriel is deeply sensitive and worries about the usual after dinner speech that he must give to those assembled at the party. Freddy Malins is a young man who has taken too much to drink and who says too much as a result. After the party Gabriel and his wife Gretta return to a hotel room where he learns that she has been pining for a young boy called Michael Furey who died many years ago. He begins to realize that he knows little about his wife even though they have been married for many years.