James Joyce’s Araby: Summary & Analysis

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The nameless narrator of the story talks about life on North Richmond Street. the previous tenant of their apartment was a priest who died. Some books are left behind, and therefore the young boy narrator sometimes looks at them. he’s raised by his aunt and uncle. one among his playmates may be a boy named Mangan, and therefore the narrator develops a crush on his friend Mangan’s sister. Mangan and his sister sleep in a building across the road. The narrator watches her stealthily, expecting her to go away within the mornings so that he can follow her on a part of his thanks to school.

One day, the girl finally speaks to him, to ask if he will attend Araby. Araby is the name of an upcoming bazaar with an Arabian theme. She can’t go, because she goes on a spiritual retreat that weekend. The narrator, filled with romantic notions, says that he will go and find some quite gift for her.

The boy can consider little but the girl, the Orientalist bazaar, and therefore the gift he will get for her. He gets permission to travel, and for days he cannot concentrate. The day finally arrives, and therefore the boy reminds his uncle that he wishes to travel to the bazaar that night. His uncle will need to get home on time to offer him the cash for a ride to the bazaar, also like a touch of paying money.

That night, his uncle is late. The boy despairs of having the ability to travel in the least, but finally, his uncle comes home. His uncle has forgotten about the bazaar, and by now it’s quite late. But the boy still wants to travel, and he takes the tiny sum of cash for the train and heads off.

He arrives at the bazaar even as it’s closing. Only a couple of stalls are open. He examines the products, but they’re far too expensive for him. The lights are being shut off, and therefore the narrator despairs: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity, and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.”


As with “The Encounter,” this story deals longingly for adventure and escape, though here this longing finds attention within the object of the narrator’s desire. The title, “Araby,” also suggests escape. To the nineteenth-century European mind, the Islamic lands of North Africa, the Middle Eastand therefore the Middle East symbolized decadence, exotic delights, escapism, and an expensive sensuality. The boy’s erotic desires for the girl become joined to his fantasies about the wonders which will be offered within the Orientalist bazaar. He dreams of shopping for her a suitably romantic gift.

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The third story of the gatheringit’s the last story with a first-person narrator. It continues with the ages-of-life structure: we’ve had young boys for our protagonists in both “The Sisters” and “An Encounter,” and here we have got a boy within the throes of his first passion. because the boy is becoming a person, the bazaar becomes emblematic for the problem of the adult world, during which the boy proves unable to navigate. Boyish fantasies are dashed by the realities of life in Dublin. the primary three stories are all narrated within the first-person, and that they all have nameless boys as their narrators. All three narrators seem sensitive and intelligent, with keen interests in learning and a propensity for fantasy. Joyce, still in his early twenties when he wrote Dubliners, clearly drew on his own experiences more directly in writing these three tales. The namelessness of all three boys also encourages interpreters to spot them with Joyce, although from an interpretive point of view this move does little to illuminate the stories.

“Araby”‘s key theme is frustration, because the boy deals with the bounds imposed on him by his situation. The protagonist features a series of romantic ideas, about the girl and therefore the wondrous event that he will attend on her behalf. But on the night when he awaits his uncle’s return so that he can attend the bazaar, we feel the boy’s frustration mounting. For a time, the boy fears he might not be ready to go in the least. When he finally does arrive, the bazaar is more or less over. His fantasies about the bazaar and buying an excellent gift for the girl are revealed as ridiculous. For one thing, the bazaar may be a rather tawdry shadow of the boy’s dreams. He overhears the conversation of a number of the vendors, who are ordinary English women, and therefore the mundane nature of the talk drives home that there’s no escape: bazaar or not, the boy remains in Dublin, and therefore the accents of the vendors remind the reader that Dublin may be a colonized city.

The boy has arrived too late to try any serious shopping, but quickly we see that his tardiness doesn’t matter. Any nice gift is well beyond the protagonist’s price range. We know, from the outline of the boy’s housing situation and therefore the small sum his uncle gives him, that their financial situation is tight. Though his anticipation of the event has provided him with pleasant daydreams, the reality is far harsher. He remains a prisoner of his modest means and his city.

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