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Analysis of James Joyce's 'Araby'

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1161 words Published: 5th Aug 2019

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Araby is viewing the Dubliners who are philistine people (The Norton Anthology of English Literature 1066). Therefore throughout the story one will encounter with the features relating to these kinds of people. Since these people are against art and culture, the overall tone of the story and the choice of the words and the imageries are gloomy and “dark”. Furthermore the name of the story causes tension to the reader. It reminds one the exotic atmosphere of Eastern world, which leads us toward some strange event. The flow of the story is toward finding the truth and finding one self.

The career of our play brought us through the dark muddy lanes behind the houses, where we ran the gauntlet of the rough tribes from the cottages, to the back doors of the dark dripping gardens. (Araby)

In this short story the reader faces with many tensions. The beginning or the introductory part of the story gives the reader the idea or the sense of becoming disappointed at the end of the story. In the first two paragraphs of it we expose to the sentences like “the streets which is blind and quiet, the uninhabited houses detached from its neighbors”. These descriptions make the reader feel hopeless. There is no spirit of life in this city even the houses are detached from each other. These images are going to foreshadow the coming parts of the story.

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The story is narrated by a boy who is nameless and because the whole part of the story is citing by first person pint of view and therefore a reliable narrator we realize his growing and transferring from childhood to maturity by the changes that is clear in his diction and his worldview. As well as passing childhood to physical maturity by experiencing the love for the opposite sex, he is gaining social and mental maturity.

At first, his childish behavior is recognizable through his imaginations and his desire for the girl which is his friend’s sister.

Romantic behavior can be seen in his manner. He is in love with a girl that we don’t know her name up to the end of the story. He has the illusion of mutual love between themselves in his mind but the reader is aware of this lack.

As a crude boy who just has the illusion of love, he is looking for a moment to prove or show his love to the girl, so when he has this opportunity to do such a thing, willingly he is ready to do whatever his imaginary love wants. After speaking with the girl we can find the matter that he decided to go to Araby and buy her a gift. It could be assumed as a step toward physical maturity because he is accepting responsibility to fulfill a woman’s desire.

After this part his mental struggle and conflict with him self is showing itself. Days and nights on his way to school and back home he is thinking about going to bazaar.

From now on, till the end of the story the narrator is using words with negative connotation which make the reader ready for the intensity and harshness of the situation that’s going to come up.

At the beginning of the story we could see his imagination casts on everything. The sense of a pure, innocent and crude child who hasn’t face with the reality and ugly side of life is tangible. But after the first big tension which he decided to go to Araby, the mental struggle concerning this matter doesn’t let him to behave like before. As an example playing with his classmates is no more interesting for him. This is another reason which can be concerned as passing childhood toward manhood.

He mentally has conflict about going to Araby. The part that he is looking at the clock which its ticking bothers him, shows that the time to go to the bazaar is reaching, but instead of a good feeling for going there he is really anxious. The night before going to the bazaar he is looking at the “dark” house which the girl lives there. “Dark” is the most repeated imagery by the narrator in the story, and it causes tension and dramatic situation.

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The train which he takes to Araby is a “deserted” train and move slowly as if it doesn’t like and is unwilling to go there. On the way to the bazaar he saw ruinous houses, which seems he is going toward destruction. But this is the destruction of his imaginations. All these signs stand as images of mental and to some extent physical harm. His illusion of love is going to shattered.

At last when he entered the bazaar he saw that the shops were closed and the greater part of it was in “darkness”. But even now at this gloomy and dark place he is looking for something romantic and brilliant like a flower tea-sets to buy for the girl.

But exactly on this moment his world view toward love changes. His eyes are opened toward reality, and the reader sees his awakening here.

He stands by one of the shops that were opened and there a young lady was flirting with two English men just for the reason to sell them something. She is flirting with them only for materials. When that woman saw him and asked him if he wants help, “her tone was just out of a sense of duty”. And the arrogance that she has toward the boy, as she “glanced at him over her shoulder” is because of the reason that this boy was an intruder, and has nothing to do there.

The sales woman acts as an agent here. She is the agent for awakening the boy. The boy rejects the woman’s help by saying “No, thank you”. By rejecting the sales woman’s help he is rejecting the love of that girl and negating all the reasons which have driven him to come to the Araby. He understand how cruel is the real life, and all his idealized vision of love shattered. In the last paragraphs of the story when he dropped the coins to his pocket the action revels that he let the material love goes. If we have a flash back to the beginning of the story the time which the girl asked the boy on their first meet to get something for her from Araby we will come to the fact that how materialistic is her view concerning love, and how childish he accept it.

In the last line of the story the boy is creeping and it’s showing that how his idealized imagination is mocked by the real people of the real world. His “eyes are burned by anguish and anger” which thoroughly means he becomes conscious and gains the knowledge of oneself.

In the last section of the paper I like to mention the name of a play by Ibsen. In Ibsen’s A Doll’s House the female character of the story was gaining self knowledge by the end of the play. Nora, the character of the play is a woman with a childlike and as if she is a grown up woman to some extent it’s good to say, sometimes with a childish behaviour. She is getting awakened at last. In this play the agent for Nora’s self conscious is a woman, Nora’s friend linde. We have also seen this self knowledge by the end of this short story by Joyce which we have analyzed through this paper.


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