Hard times often call for tough decisions, but the decision to use another person is not getting by, it’s getting over. James Joyce’s short story “Two Gallants” centers on two individuals who use others for their personal gain. The characters of Lenehan and Corley appear to move through life by getting over on those around them without much thought to how their actions impact others.
Joyce’s Dubliners is an incredible study of a city and those who inhabit it. “Two Gallants” follows Lenehan, a nondescript man of middle age, as he kills time wandering around Dublin waiting for his friend Corley to, “pull it off.” The reader is allowed into Lenehan’s thoughts as he ponders his current state and how he is living his life (I won’t spoil it for you, but Joyce’s use of the epiphany is subtle here). We aren’t allowed into Corley’s inner thoughts but his words and actions clearly define the type of person he is.
Lenehan and Corley are men who have become so accustomed to using others for their own gain they barely think of it. They may tell themselves that they are getting by in a tough world but in reality they are simply getting over on an innocent victim. “Two Gallants” is a good read for anyone interested in the motives and means of those who use others for personal gain.