Characterisation of Polly and Mr Doran

Other important characters of the short story “The Boarding House” by James Joyce are Polly Mooney and Bob Doran.

Polly Mooney

Towards the end of the narrative, the narrator renders Polly Mooney's perspective on the events.

Outer characterisation

Her outer characterisation presents her to be “a slim girl of nineteen”, the daughter of Mrs Mooney who also does housework at her boarding house after quitting a job as a typist at a factory. The description of her physical traits suggests that she is a beautiful young woman:

…she had light soft hair and a small full mouth. Her eyes, which were grey with a shade of green through them, had a habit of glancing upwards when she spoke with anyone, which made her look like a little perverse Madonna.”

She also sings to entertain guests and is described by Bob Doran in her night-clothes and also as not very literate: "She was a little vulgar;  some times  she said "I seen" and "If I had've known.""

She wore a loose open combing-jacket of printed flannel. Her white instep shone in the opening of her furry slippers and the blood glowed warmly behind her perfumed skin. From her hands and wrists too as she lit and steadied her candle a faint perfume arose.

Inner characterisation

The girl’s inner characterisation is conveyed through her actions but also by using Bob Doran’s perspective on her or through her thoughts and attitude at the end.

Initially, she comes across as ...

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