James Joyce’s “An Encounter” is a story that focuses around the misadventure of an unnamed narrator and his friend Mahoney, while they have an impromptu getaway from their mundane lives. The two boys are tired and bored of following the strict guidelines that are being forced upon them by their religious school and the staunch society of Ireland. However on this journey the two boys are met by a man who seems uncomfortably curious about the boys’ lives. This story revolves around the hope for adventure but not liking the outcome. The narrator wants nothing more than to escape his life and find excitement; he gets exactly what he wanted but not in the way he expected. The story is written to never directly state what is happening; as is the case of the man who is never explicitly doing anything wrong however with clues within the text the man’s disturbing person is inferred. When on the topic of whipping young boys who are talking with girls he states “He would love that, better than anything in this world” (173). This story is part of Joyce’s Dubliners and it is one of the first short stories, so it opens the entire anthology with an eerie and uncomfortable tale. The story follows a cliched theme of being careful what you wish for, as it can land one in a place of danger. “An Encounter” is a cautionary tale of the way desires can become twisted when brought into reality.
Works Cited: Joyce, James. “An Encounter.” Short Fiction An Anthology: Second Edition. Ed. Levene, Mark, and Rosemary Sullivan. Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.