This literary study will analyze the conflict of intercultural values that are found within the modernist and traditionalist views represented in these two stories by William Faulkner and James Joyce. The evolving conflict of traditional values versus modern values found in early 20th century Dublin reveals the often pompous and closed society that exists within the microcosm of family life. Joyce’s main character Gabriel is a character that must face this traditional and often stuffy type of Dublin aristocracy, as her tries to reinvent himself as the modern man. This type of ‘death” in traditional values is also part of the familial conflict that Emily must also face as a Southern woman facing the defeat of the South and the modern Northern society that takes away her traditional role as a prominent leader in plantation society. In essence, these two stories similarly represent the intercultural conflict of traditionalist and modernist societies that Emily and Gabriel must face in ever-shifting cultural values they affect their immediate social environment.
In Joyce’s “The Dead”, the conflict between traditionalist Irish values of a traditional aristocracy often clashes with the youthful modernist perspective of Gabriel, the main character in this story. Joyce’s use of high society creates the feeling that Gabrielle is a modern youth that dislikes the arrogant and pompous “walking dead” that refuse to change with the times. The aristocracy that is presented in the play obviously denotes the strict societal behaviors that everyone seems to use, but show little character or deviance from the grand appreciation we might wish to feel for these so called ‘well bred’ people. In fact, Gabriel seems to think his family are a little too well bred—to the point where they are like automatons or machines, reflecting the modernistic reality of the story. In one scene Gabriel watches Mary Jane in the music parlor:
Gabriel could not listen while Mary Jane was playing her Academy piece, full of runs and difficult passages, to the hushed drawing room. He liked music but the piece she was playing held no melody for him.” (Joyce 29)
In this brief series of events at the party, it is clear what Joyce means by ‘dead’, and that it is the family unit and the isolation of Irish society from the outside world that creates the conflict in an intercultural context. In this manner, Gabriel realizes Mary can’t even play her music piece with any real heart. Everyone is following the boring and mechanical sense of the “industrial age traditions” in this scene, following these behavior traits to a point that leaves the characters devoid of any real spirit. Gabriel is one to notice these dullards, and Joyce creates him in such a manner that illustrates a man of character in the presence of the party group. This is the means that creates the air of high aristocracy, but never really gives one the impression that any of this is something to be desired. The strict behaviors,...