“He had a hanging face, dark wine-coloured, with fair eyebrows and moustache: his eyes bulged forward slightly and the whites of them were dirty.”
This line from James Joyce’s “Counterparts,” is found at the very beginning of the story. I love James Joyce. His style, the way he puts together stories that don’t seem to be connected but actually are. This line is the description of the main character Farrington. This sentence is beautiful because it uses very effective terms to explain how this character looks, but also who he is. Farrington is a man who is unhappy with his life, and he is under a lot of pressure throughout the story, all of which we get hints of in this passage.
“He had a hanging face,” is the first part of this description. When reading this, the reader can imagine someone who is displeased, but also someone who is tired or hungover or even drunk. We find out later that Farrington uses alcohol as a way to cope with his life. I think it is important to note, Joyce does not tell us the expression on Farrington’s face. This is effective because firstly, the reader can interpret his different expressions throughout his presence in the story. And secondly, if this is alluding to the fact that he is drunk, he is an unhappy, or perhaps expressionless drunk.
When Joyce goes on to say his face was wine colored, this adds to the idea that he is not a kind or happy looking man. I pictured red wine when reading this, which is a dark reddish purple color. To give that description to a man’s face is clearly not 100 percent accurate, but adds to our understanding that he has dark thoughts or feelings. Additionally, using an alcoholic beverage to describe an alcoholic is very creative.
His eyebrows and mustache are fair in color. This alone could be a typically nice trait, but when you put it on a dark, droopy faced man, fair colored facial hair would look kind of creepy. Additionally, this could lead the reader to have some sympathy for Farrington. He has some nice traits, so he may be a nice guy underneath, but with all of the things going on in his life, that gets covered up.
“His eyes bulged forward slightly…” This line follows the fair colored facia hair detail, and goes hand in hand with it, because bulging eyes are definitely creepy. Imagining someone with all of those other traits, and then his eyes just slightly pushing outward would make him look a little bit crazed. This could be an attribution to his drunken state, and also to how much pressure we later learn he is under.
Lastly, we read that the whites of his eyes are dirty. This is the part of the passage that made me choose this line to respond to the prompt. For the whites of someones eyes to be dirty is not a common description. It sounds kind of gross and unhealthy. I took it as foreshadowing. We will learn that Farrington has trouble keeping himself on track and that he makes some wrong choices and these things are because he is not seeing clearly. There are a lot of things clouding his judgement which we read about later on and this line sums all of that up.
^^ I wrote this for a class, but I like it and maybe someone else will too?