Araby Essay Research Paper

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Araby Essay, Research Paper “Araby” Lesson in Adolescence In his brief but complex story “Araby,” James Joyce concentrates on character rather than on plot to reveal the ironies within self-deception. On one level “Araby” is a story of initiation, of a boy’s quest for the ideal. The quest ends in failure but results in an inner awareness and a first step into manhood. On another level the story consists of a grown man’s remembered experience, for a man who looks back to a particular moment of intense meaning and insight tells the story in retrospect. As such, the boy’s experience is not restricted to youth’s encounter with first love. Rather, it is a portrayal of a continuing problem all through life: the incompatibility of the ideal, of the dream as one

wishes it to be, with the bleakness of reality. This double focus-the boy who first experiences, and the man who has not forgotten provides for the rendering of a story of first love told by a narrator who, with his wider, adult vision, can employ the sophisticated use of irony and symbolic imagery necessary to reveal the story’s meaning. The story opens with a description of North Richmond Street, a “blind,” “cold … .. silent” (275)street where the houses “gazed at one an-other with brown imperturbable faces.”.(275) The former tenant, a priest, died in the back room of the house, and his legacy-several old yellowed books, which the boy enjoys leafing through because they are old, and a bicycle pump rusting in the back yard-become symbols of the intellectual and

religious vitality of the past. Every morning before school the boy lies on the floor in the front parlor peeking out through a crack in the blind of the door, watching and waiting for the girl next door to emerge from her house and walk to school. He is shy and still boyish. He follows her, walks silently past, not daring to speak, overcome with a confused sense of desire and adoration. In his mind she is both a saint to be worshipped and a woman to be desired. His eyes are “often full of tears.”.(276) Walking with his aunt to shop on Saturday evenings he imagines that the girl’s image accompanies him, and that he protects her in “places the most hostile to romance.” (276) Here, Joyce reveals the epiphany in the story: “These noises converged in a single sensation of

life for me: I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes.”(276) He is unable to talk to the girl. Drifting away from his schoolmates’ boyish games, the boy has fantasies in his isolation, in the ecstasy and pain of first love. Finally the girl speaks to the boy. She asks him if he is going to Araby. He replies that if he does he will bring her a gift, and from that the moment his thoughts are upon the potential sensuality of “the white border of a petticoat”. (277) The boy cannot sleep or study and his school work suffers “…had hardly any patience with the serious work of life…seemed to me child’s play, ugly monotonous child’s play…”. (277) The word Araby “cast an Eastern enchantment” (277) over him, and then on the night he is to

go to the bazaar his uncle neglects to return home. Neither the aunt nor uncle understands the boy’s need and anguish, thus his isolation is deepened. We begin to see that the story is not so much a story of love as it is a rendition of the world in which the boy lives. The second part of the story depicts the boy’s inevitable disappointment and realization. In such an atmosphere of “blindness”(277) the aunt and uncle unaware of the boy’s anguish, the girl not conscious of the boy’s love, and the boy himself blind to the true nature of his love-the words “hostile to romance” (276) take on ironic overtones. These overtones deepen when the boy arrives too late at the bazaar. It is closing and the hall is “in darkness.”(278) He recognizes “a silence like that