I agree with Roberta Jackson’s assertion that Duffy is a closeted gay man. Jackson gives many pieces of evidence to suggest James Joyce cast Duffy as a man in the closet. One compelling piece of evidence for me was the deconstruction of Duffy’s hometown, Chapelizod, the name meaning “Chapel of Isolde.” This references Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde which labels Duffy as having failed at loving women. Also, Duffy’s diet is slightly feminine in that he drinks lager beer with his lunch. If Joyce wanted to portray Duffy as a more masculine character he may have had him consuming a more masculine drink.
Duffy’s association with the Irish Socialist Party was Duffy’s way of getting involved in the political world. The socialists would have advocated massive social and governmental reforms. Duffy being apart of this group makes sense because if he were a closeted gay man he would affiliate himself with a party that would seek the greatest amount of social change, considering the negative opinion of gays at this point in time. The fact that he discontinued attending meetings because the workers were too concerned with their wages instead of social issues is evidence of his hope for change.