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Word Count: 635
The Unlikely Heroine In the present day we worship our so-called heroes whether they be political figures entertainment icons or athletic superstars to a degree that can be rivaled with the ancient Greeks fascination with their gods Our role models are usually those which whom society has labeled as being powerful talented brave or even good looking people considered worthy of being praised by a mass audience And as the ideologies of a society are mirrored into its literature one can say that it is this love affair with the romantic notion of a hero that makes James Joyces Maria in his short story Clay the unlikely heroine For it can be said that a true hero is one who is courageous enough to make the most of what life has given them and have the strength to come to terms with their fate Joyces Maria is homely rather than beautiful She is neither wealthy nor powerful and seems to have no outstanding qualities that would set her apart from the next middle aged woman on the streets of Ireland She works at a laundry Dublin by Lamplight alongside former prostitutes has never married and attends church regularly Her chores are done impeccably and are very much appreciated by the women around her She is a veritable peacemaker never outspoken or judgmental and always well respected by her friends and family a sort of surrogate mother to all She is plainly and simply Maria and accordingly James Joyce has not given her a last name At a time of religious persecution economic struggle and hunger in Ireland Joyce has brought to life a female character who finds happiness in the simpler things in life and values what she does have instead of focusing on what she does not She does not spend time distressing over the fact that she must work next to prostitutes but instead turns her attention to the small conservatory
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