The Encounter, by James Joyce, is a short story about two schoolboys who decide to skip school and spend a day having fun.
This story revolves mostly around two boys, the unnamed narrator and his friend Mahony who decide to skip school with their friend Leo Dillon for a day (Joyce 169). After Leo doesn’t show up to the meeting point, Mahony and the narrator decide to continue the day without him (Joyce 170). The two boys spend the day in Dublin, wandering about and soon cross the river by a ferry (Joyce 171) before buying some food and relaxing in a field where they encounter a man. The man sits with the main characters for a time, remembering about his younger years as a schoolboy, and how he longed to be young once more (Joyce 172), but after Mahony departs from them, the man begins to discuss the whipping of boys and “there is nothing more in the world he would like so much as that” (Joyce 173) to the narrator who quickly departs with Mahony shortly after.
The Encounter is a mostly lighthearted tale which excels at providing the reader with the viewpoint of a boy looking for adventure in a boring school life, but as well making the reading wonder who the man is and why he wishes he could chastise school boys (Joyce 173). The story is one I would certainly recommend to anyone who is looking for a lighthearted read and doesn’t mind some unanswered questions at the end.