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Araby by James Joyce

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Nicole Cruder

on 9 June 2015

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Transcript of Araby by James Joyce

A young boy describes the North Dublin street on which his house is located. He thinks about the priest who died in the house before his family moved in and the games that he and his friends played on the street.
He develops a crush on his friend Mangan's sister. He becomes so infatuated with the girl that he begins to watch her every move, even though the two have never spoken.
One evening, the girl finally speaks to him, and she asks him if he plans to go to the Araby bazaar (marketplace where goods & services are exchanged and sold). She can't go to the bazaar because she is going on a religious retreat that weekend. The boy, full of romantic notions, says that he will go and get her a gift.
The boy requests and receives permission to attend the bazaar on Saturday night. When Saturday night comes, however, his uncle returns home late because he went to a pub after work. After much anguished waiting, the boy receives money for the bazaar, but by the time he arrives at Araby, it is too late because most of the stalls were closed. He approaches one stall that is still open, but buys nothing, feeling unwanted by the woman watching over the goods. With no purchase for Mangan's sister, the boy stands angrily in the deserted bazaar as the lights go out. (www.cummingstudyguides.net)
Young boy harboring crush on friend's sister
Shows obsessive qualities (following Mangan's sister, waiting for her to leave the house, making the journey to Araby)
Thinks that Mangan's sister is almost godlike; puts her on a pedestal
Sister sees him as nothing special, at most a nice boy that is friends with her brother
Mangan's Sister
Older (teenage) girl, physically beautiful
Polite, seems unaware of narrator's affections
Thoughts mostly cover her own life
Treats narrator courteously but not special
Constantly backed by referenced to light/illumination (narrator's thoughts showing that he sees her as being otherworldly)
"Her figure was defined by the light from the half-opened door"
: sudden and striking realization
Narrator overhears a trite conversation between an English girl working at the bazaar and two young men
"At the door of the stall a young lady was talking and laughing with two young gentlemen. I remarked their English accents and listened vaguely to their conversation: 'O, I never said such a thing!' 'O, but you did!' O, but I didn't!' 'Didn't she say that?' 'Yes. I heard her.' 'O, there's a... fib!'"
It dawns on him that the bazaar, which he thought would be so exotic and exciting, is really only a commercialized place to buy things.
He now realizes that Mangan's sister is just a girl who will not care whether he fulfills his promise to buy her something at the bazaar.
His conversation with Mangan's sister, during which he promised he would buy her something, was really only small talk — as meaningless as the one between the English girl and her companions.
He leaves Araby feeling ashamed and upset.
The story concludes with the boy experiencing an epiphany, but not a positive one.
Instead of reaffirming his love or realizing that he does not need gifts to express his feelings for Mangan's sister, the narrator simply gives up
This epiphany signals a change in the narrator — from an innocent, idealistic boy to an adolescent dealing with the harsh realities of life
Epiphany results in the death of all of his dreams:
"Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger"
The boy suddenly realizes just how stupid he has been and how illusory all of his thoughts and hopes were.
Paralleled by the turning off of the lights at the bazaar, the light of his romantic illusions is now firmly switched off, leaving him to face the darkness of reality alone
Plot Diagram
: The story takes place on North Richmond Street in Dublin, Ireland during the season of winter. The narrator is a young boy. He lives with his aunt and uncle in a house on this street. The former tenant, a priest, has recently passed away. He enjoys playing with his friends in the neighborhood. He has a crush on his friend Mangan's sister.
Inciting Incident
: The young boy is so infatuated with Mangan's sister that he thinks about her all the time and watches her every move, even though the two have never spoken. He fears that he will never gather the courage to speak with her and express his feelings.
Rising Action
: One day, Mangan's sister talks to him and asks him if he is going to Araby. She cannot go, but the boy promises that he will go and get her a gift. On the morning of the bazaar, he reminds his uncle that he plans to attend the event so that the uncle will return home early and provide train fare. The uncle does not return home until late because he was at a pub. He still gives the boy money to go to Araby.
: The boy arrives at the bazaar just before 10 PM. By the time he arrives, it is too late because most of the stalls are closed.
Falling Action
: The boy approaches one stall that is still open, but buys nothing, feeling unwanted by the woman watching over the goods.
: Without a gift for Mangan's sister, the boy stands angrily in the deserted bazaar as the lights go out. (site.google.com)
Araby by James Joyce
: musty, curled, damp, straggling, rusty, dusk, sombre, feeble, shadow, hostile, flaring, jostled, shrill, nasal chanting, dark, raining, broken, sodden, pitilessly raw, cold, empty, gloomy, crept, alone, bare, deserted, ruinous, weary, pervades, burned, anguish, anger
Imagery & Events that Create Mood
1) In the beginning of the story, the narrator describes what it's like when the children play in the streets during the winter --> this creates a sombre/desolate/eerie mood. Imagery in this event:
“cold air stung us”, “our bodies glowed”, “shouts echoed”, “silent streets”, “dark, dripping gardens”
2) When the narrator describes the times of day in which he would admire his friend’s sister from afar (hidden in the shadows), the mood is intense and passionate. Imagery in this event:
“my heart leaped”, “her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood”, “eyes were full of tears”, “confused adoration”, “my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires”
3) The narrator describes the beginning of his voyage to Araby (as he is making his way to the train station), and the mood is hectic, stressful, unpleasant and chaotic. Imagery in this event:
“the streets thronged with buyers”. Once he boards the train, the mood shifts back to its original eeriness: “deserted train”, “crept onward among ruinous houses” “I remained alone in the bare carriage”
4) As he enters (at first seemingly magical) Araby, he realizes that most of the stalls were closed, and he sees the silence as
“one that pervades a church after a service”
5) Finally, the narrator approaches an open stall because he remembers the reason why he came to Araby in the first place --> he wants to buy his crush a gift. The mood created in this part of the story is completely lacking in passion...it is dull, sad, and empty:
“The tone of her voice was not encouraging”, “upper part of the hall was now completely dark”

Literary Devices
: “back
oors of the
ripping gar
: "the other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces" (comparison of houses to persons)
: “all my senses seemed to desire to veil themselves"
: “I heard the rain impinge upon the earth” (makes the rain appear angry)
: “her name was like a summons to my foolish blood”
: “I recognized a silence like that which pervades a church after a service”
: “the great jars that stood like eastern guards at either side of the dark entrance to the stall”
: “I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity”
: "shook music from the buckled harness" (comparison of music to an object that can be shaken from something)
: “fine incessant needles of water” (the rain)

The Frustration and Vanity of Love
Joyce suggests that all people experience frustrated desire for love and new experiences
Narrator --> indirectly learns an important lesson about love and how it is exploited in the real world for the benefit of consumerism
Vanity plays a HUGE role in the expression of love
Human beings believe that through material things they will win the love of someone they desire, when in reality, love never works this way
Tedious events that delay the narrator's trip indicate that no room exists for love in the daily lives of
The Prison of Routine
Narrator --> wants to go to Araby to buy a gift for the girl he loves, but he is late because his uncle becomes mired in the routine of his workday
Uncle "supposedly" forgot all about what the boy had told him that morning
Acted nonchalant about the matter; hands this nephew the money for train
"At nine o'clock I heard my uncle's latchkey in the halldoor. I heard him talking to himself and heard the hallstand rocking when it had received the weight of his overcoat. I could interpret these signs. When he was midway through his dinner I asked him to give me the money to go to the bazaar. He had forgotten."
Story suggests that the prison of routine gets us to forget about other things apart from work
The uncle even notes this by saying,
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
Uncle seems to be subject to his own saying, since it suggests that he works so much he forgets about other important things in life like his nephew
How does the Writing Style of the Time Period Affect the Story?
is part of a collection of short stories called
, which was published in 1914.
All of the short stories concern the psychological conflicts of normal people.
All of them force the main character to alter their perspectives on life.
Irish Nationalism
The same year that the
was published
British Parliament passed the Home Rule Act
It was intended to give Ireland "home rule," or self-government within the United Kingdom.
However, it was postponed by the issues over whether North and South Ireland should be joined or separated.
Still, this prospect of seeking independence promoted a search for a national purpose and identity by the Irish citizens.
The political scene was uncertain, yet hopeful.
Attempts to Connect with the Citizens
All of the short stories in
, including
, seem to be written so people in Ireland during this time period and others in general could connect with the main characters’ internal conflicts
The boy in
is never given a name, and the girl of his affections is always “Mangan’s sister,” so she is never given a name
This obscurity makes the story more relatable and easier for a reader to imagine themselves in the narrator’s place.
was also influenced by naturalism, which focuses on depicting the hard facts of modern life and writing without the use of exaggerated emotions.
However, the story is not completely written in the naturalist style, because the reader is able to learn about the psychological conflicts of the protagonist and how he views himself at the end of the story.
The narrator does not just walk home alone in the dark: he walks home alone in the dark viewing himself as a
“creature driven and derided by vanity

When the narrator leaves Araby, he looks up into the darkness of the nearly empty hall and says,
". . . I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity . . . ."

He has failed in his quest to win the affection of Mangan's sister by bringing her a special gift.
Realized that the romance and enchantment of Araby has lived only in his mind
Feels foolish and disappointed to the point of despair
Calling himself "a creature" indicates that he does not see himself as an independent and intelligent person, but one whose pride, conceit, and self-absorption have brought him to this crushing defeat
Thinks of vanity as a deadly sin --> suggests the strong influence of the Catholic Church in his life
The reality of his drab life has destroyed his romantic illusions.
He blames himself for ever having believed that he could find love, beauty, and enchantment.
Literary Criticism
“Joyce spends most of the story introducing the boy’s thoughts on the area in which he lives, and similarly how he feels about the life he has lived thus far; he builds up the boy’s disgust for the simple aspects of his daily life, and how he feels bored with where he lives and what he does. Then, in contrast, he shows us what actually excites the boy; the girl with whom he is infatuated. The key to his crush though, is in what it makes the boy do, and how it forces him to act without logic and personal will,” (Shayes 1)

“ He notes, “Nearly all the stalls were closed and the greater part of the hall was in darkness. I recognized a silence like that which pervades a church after a service” (305). This is when we first see the boy’s happiness crash down into sadness.,” (Shayes 5).

****These support the claim that the narrator undergoes an epiphany. He begins the story with "disgust for the simple aspects of daily life" and finishes it with the consequences of his illogical actions (he wakes up from his previously childish and idealistic dream)

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