The Sisters (Joyce)

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The Sisters
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A young boy mourned the death of a priest who had been his mentor, reflecting on their relationship and the priest's mysterious past, while attending the wake with his aunt.

A young boy often passed by the house of a priest, Father Flynn, who had suffered his third stroke and was on the verge of death. The boy had a close relationship with the priest, who had taught him many things about the church and its ceremonies. The boy was intrigued by the priest's condition and the word "paralysis," which filled him with fear and curiosity.

The Narrator — young boy; curious, observant, and reflective.
Father Flynn — deceased priest; the boy's mentor; troubled, secretive, and paralyzed.

It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work.

One evening, the boy's uncle informed him that Father Flynn had passed away. The boy felt a strange sense of freedom upon hearing the news, despite the priest's significant impact on his life. He visited the priest's house, which was now draped in mourning, and read the notice of his death.

The boy and his aunt went to the house of mourning later that day, where they met the priest's sisters, Nannie and Eliza. They discussed Father Flynn's peaceful death and the preparations they had made for his funeral.

The Aunt — the boy's aunt; pious, caring, and supportive.

Ah, there's no friends like the old friends, when all is said and done, no friends that a body can trust.

Eliza mentioned that the priest had been acting strangely before his death, often found lost in thought or laughing to himself in the dark. The sisters believed that the priest's mental state had been affected by an incident involving a broken chalice, which had caused him great distress. They recalled finding him sitting alone in his confession box, wide awake and laughing softly to himself. This behavior led them to believe that something had gone wrong with him, and his health deteriorated from that point on.

That affected his mind, she said. After that he began to mope by himself, talking to no one and wandering about by himself.