The Dead


On the lightly snowy evening of January 6, 1904 in Dublin, elderly spinster sisters Kate and Julia and their niece, Mary Jane – all music teachers or performers, past or present – are hosting their annual Epiphany party and dinner, and, with the exception of Mary Jane’s new crop of students and the young gentlemen tasked with keeping them company, most of the guests have attended in previous years. Kate and Julia’s nephew Gabriel and his wife Gretta hold integral roles for the evening, Gabriel, who, in addition to being Freddy Malins’ caregiver if he gets too drunk as is often the case, is to carve the dinner goose and provide the evening’s main toast, while Gretta is to present the pudding. With the added unexpected excitement provided by Irish nationalist Molly Ivors for Gabriel, the party basically goes according to script. As most of the guests have departed and just before Gabriel and Gretta are to do the same – this year they staying in a downtown hotel instead of making the long trek to their suburban home and children – something happens to makes Gretta enter into a moment of deep reflection. Gretta confessing the cause and the item of reflection later at the hotel to Gabriel leads to Gabriel, as a culmination of the evening’s sum total of events, also entering into reflection, about his and Gretta’s marriage, and about life and death in general.

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