This book was just too preachy and campy and religious for my taste. I get that Joyce was trying to be moving, but if felt a bit too over the top.
The man leaves to post a letter and just starts walking and along the way he realizes that he does love his wife and he should take responsibility for having martyred himself over their son's death and just allow himself and others to be. Certainly worthwhile; unfortunately he also has to be this ridiculous Jesus figure (he doesn't believe, but others believe in him and as he goes on his quest he faces problems with faith) who has to give up all his possessions and rely on the kindness of strangers throughout (including having them wash his feet!). Oh my god, the symbolism is rampant.
There are some nice moments, but there weren't any surprises there was no plot development (really he just walks and we get to hear more about his past, which was fairly transparent by the first 1/4 or so of the book).
I liked a couple of quotes all having to do with the loneliness of each of us even within our relationships: "The tender pieces of themselves that people staked as boundaries against the outside world." and "what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside. The inhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal, and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday. The loneliness of that." and "she had tucked them somewhere safe among her thoughts, and she would not judge him for them, or hold it against him in years to come. He supposed that was what friendship was, and regretted all the years he had spent without it."
Overall, I would have enjoyed it as a 80 page novella, but the 325 page version was tedious and nauseatingly overdone.