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The Boarding House

Writer : James Joyce


James Joyce’s “The Boarding House” is the suspense story which ends with the strategic techniques of Mrs. Mooney, central character in the story. She plays the significant role to settle the love affair of her young daughter and Mr. Doren with whom she had an affair and special relationship. The story is all about the character sketch of a strong determined woman named Mrs. Mooney and her persuasive strategies to settle her daughter’s affair with Mr. Doran.

Mrs. Mooney is the daughter of a butcher. She marries a man who works for her father. After the death of her father, her husband starts drinking and taking money from the shop. He fights with her in front of the customers. After a short time, he finishes almost all the property and falls into heavy debt. One night, he runs after her with a knife to kill her. She escapes and saves her life spending the night in the neighboring house. Then, they can’t live together any more. Mrs Mooney takes her children and the remaining money of the shop and starts a Boarding House in Hardwick Street.

Many tourists, musicians and the visitors from the city come to stay in the boarding house. The young men live and eat in the house. They talk about horses and sing songs on Sunday nights. Polly Mooney, the daughter of Mrs. Mooney also sings with them. Polly is a beautiful girl of nineteen with light soft hair and grey eyes. Her mother gives her housework to do so that she comes in contact with the young men. The intention of Mrs. Money is to trap a young man for her daughter. She watches her daughter and the young men carefully but none of them look serious in the beginning. When Mrs. Mooney notices something between Polly and one young man named Mr. Doran, she watches them carefully. Though people begin to talk about them, Mrs. Mooney keeps silent as she is waiting for the right time to talk about the affair openly. Finally, Mrs. Mooney makes a decision. She thinks that Mr. Doran must pa for his enjoyment. The money is not enough, he must marry her daughter.

One evening, she calls her daughter about the affair. Though Polly seems uncomfortable, she tells every detail of their relationship. The mother calls Mr. Doran in her drawing room to talk about the affair. Mr. Doran is helpless and confused. Though he accepts his relationship with Polly, he does like to marry her. He knows that Polly is not educated and her family background is not good. People talk badly about her drunkard father and the bad reputation of the boarding house. His family will not accept her and his friends will laugh at him. He also knows that if he refuses to marry, he will lose his job. He remembers the hard face of his boss. Though he tries to be free by paying a lot of money as compensation, Mrs. Mooney makes him in a trap by saying that she doesn’t want to sell her daughter’s virtues. She uses strong reasons and persuasive strategies and reminds Mr. Doran of his happy moment with Polly. In this way, Mrs. Mooney very c1everly compels Mr. Doran to marry her daughter.

At last, Mrs. Mooney called Mr. Doran to her house. She started to pressurize him to marry Poly at any case. But he refused at first. She even threatened him. But she reminded him all those happiest moments that he had spent with her daughter Polly. After remembering all the moments, he agreed to marry Polly. This is a type of strategy and technique from which Mrs. Mooney settled her daughter’s affair with Mr. Doren.

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