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Joyce wrote this story while living in Rome and, as it is a tribute to Irish hospitality, he is engaging in some intricate allusions to his own family as well as to the family of the real musical sisters who lived in the house on Usher's Island, a house that is still standing.The family name of the actual sisters was Flynn, and since the fictional sisters refer to their brother as Pat, then his name would be Patrick Flynn (the last name of the actual sisters), which was the name of Joyce's maternal grandfather.It is true, it is true, we are shadows cold and wan; And the fair and the brave whom we lov'd on earth are gone, But still thus even in death So sweet the living breath Of the fields and the flow'rs in our youth we wander9d o9er That ere, condemn'd, we go To freeze mid Hecla's* snow, We would taste it awhile, and think we live once more!(*Hecla is a volcano in Iceland.) Lily: In choosing this name Joyce wants the reader to make the associations that the flower has with: 1) death (it is frequently used at funerals); 2) the Archangel Gabriel (it is symbolic of this guardian of the gates of death); and 3) Easter, and thus with rebirth.
bathroom upstairs: Only the very best houses had indoor bathrooms.One of the most popular and well known books of poetry at the time was Thomas Moore's Oh, ye Dead! whom we know by the light you give From your cold gleaming eyes, though you move like men who live.Why leave you thus your graves, In far off fields and waves, Where the worm and the sea-bird only know your bed, To haunt this spot where all Those eyes that wept your fall, And the hearts that wail'd you, like your own, lie dead?the Academy: The Royal Irish Academy of Music, formerly the Ancient Concert Rooms, which were founded as a place for concerts by the Antient Concerts Society in 1843.Joyce sang at a recital there when he was twenty-two.
Morkan's: Some years previous to writing this story Joyce had begun to study Scandinavian languages, at first in order to write an adulatory letter to Ibsen, so he perhaps chooses their name because morke is 'darkness' in Danish.