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ResearchPaper: Araby by James Joyce

Thestory Araby is one of the short stories encompassed in the Dublinerseries of short stories by James Joyce. The Dubliners were publishedin 1914 Grant Richard limited. Dubliner short stories were used as adepiction of the naturalistic middle life of Dublin in the 20thcentury. The stories were written at a time when the nationalism ofIreland was at its peak as it was a period of the search for nationalidentity. The Dubliner stories center on what James Joyce considersan epiphany, a moment when the characters experience moments ofself-illumination (Stone 275). The initial stories of this book focuson protagonists who are children, but towards the end they seem tomature into adults. This is considered a tripartite partition of theseries of stories into childhood, adolescence and later adulthood. Inthis short story, James Joyce gives the readers a glimpse of achildhood life that they can all relate to. This story is narrated bya little unnamed boy, but to the readers who understand the life ofJames Joyce, it is clear that he bases this story on his very ownreal life childhood (Stone 300).

Thisresearch paper will analyze some of the references in the story thatcan be related to the childhood life of James Joyce. The paper alsolooks at the political landscape in which James grew up in and thenature of his household so as to compare them with his references inthe story. The paper will also analyze the reasoning behind theoutcomes of this short story and determine how they can be comparedto the everyday lives.

Referencesin Araby that point to the life of James Joyce

JamesJoyce based the setting and the characters of Araby from somerecollections of his childhood life. However, he made some changessuch as the fact that he was not an orphan as a child. The followingare some of the pointers that show very close similarity between thereal life of James and his story Araby. Just like the boy in theshort story Araby, James Joyce was a resident of Dublin in hisadolescent years which was around 1984 (Stone 325). At this time,Ireland was chaffing under the British rule. He grew up at a verydifficult time for Ireland when many people were still trying to makepushes so that this country can be independent of the British rule.Similarly, in this short story, Joyce touches on some of theenvironmental issues that affect the narrator and other Dublinerssuch as adverse social, cultural and economic issues that are as aresult of the ongoing dominance of Ireland by the British. JamesJoyce lived in in the central part of Dublin, Richmond Street duringhis adolescent days. Just like the narrator in this short story,James was undergoing a period of self-discovery at this time.However, he was not an orphan (Stone 275). In all the short storiesin the Dubliners, Dublin is depicted as a bleak city that is stillstruggling to secure itself from the oppressive forces. The storytalks about some winter scenes where the narrator and other boys playnear the end of North Richmond Street and other nearby lanes. Thescene towards the end of the story shifts to the south of Dublinacross River Liffey in a large building where there was a bazaarknown as ‘Araby’. Such a bazaar actually took place in Dublinbetween 14thand 19thof May, 1894 to raise money for the benefit of a local hospital. Inthis short story, James Joyce also mentions towards the end of thesixth paragraph that he was struggling with his feelings towards thesister of Mangan because his religion needed him to control himself.This shows that the narrator was from a religious family just likethe young James Joyce, who grew up in a catholic family.

Othercharacters in this story include Mangan, a boy who is around the sameage as the narrator. He is his companion and the boy who plays withhim in the streets. The sister of Mangan is the girl who the narratorwill fall in love with. He will go to the bazaar just to get her apresent. The uncle and aunt of the narrator are also mentioned in thestory. The uncle is a drinker and he addresses him as ‘boy’. Thiscan be taken as a sign that they are not close. Other charactersinclude Mrs. Mercer, the school master, the stall attendant and thetwo English men who are flirting her, the train porters, otherneighborhood boys and other Dubliners like the pedestrians, drunksand shop boys.


Thenarrator of this story is a boy who lives in a house located in astreet in North Dublin. The house is said to have been previously thehome of a priest who is now dead. They think about the dead priestand how he used to play in the streets together with his friendsmainly from his uncle and the sister of his friend named Mangan andother people present in their neighborhood. His friend’s sistermainly visits their house to call Mangan and the narrator says heloves these moments (Joyce, 104). The narrator begins every day withthe sight Mangan’s sister. He stands in the room near the front ofthe house just so he can watch her get out of their house. He runsand walks slowly behind her until he passes. The narrator always hasthis girl in his thoughts even though they speak just a little. He isseen thinking about this girl while he his accompanying his aunt todo the daily errands and also when he is sitting alone in theback-room of his house. He infatuates about her so much, but he isafraid to let his feelings known to her (Joyce, 175).

Onemorning, the narrator gets to interact with the girl he is in lovewith and they manage to talk about Araby, a bazaar in Dublin. Thegirl says that she cannot manage to attend the bazaar as she has madeother school plans on the same date. The narrator is disappointed,but he promises to bring her a gift from the bazaar. From this momenton, the narrator gets very anxious about the event. He even stopsconcentrating in school as the classes distract him from thinkingabout Mangan’s sister. He stays restless and full of tension as hewaits for the day of the bazaar. On the morning of the Araby, thenarrator makes sure that he reminds his uncle about the event so thathe can provide him with the transportation fee (Joyce, 1994). Dinnertime passes and the narrator gets visitors yet his uncle does notreturn until 9.00 pm and gives him the fare. He hurries to the trainstation and thanks to the slow trains, he arrives at the event at10.00 pm when the event ids already closing. Luckily, one of thestores at the bazaar is still open and he manages to speak to thewoman watching over the goods. He did not buy anything because hefelt like the woman did not treat him well. At the end of the story,the narrator stands angrily at the bazaar as the lights go off. hewas sad that he was not able to buy anything for the girl he likes.


Ona simple level, Araby is just a story about a young boy who falls inlove with a girl, but on the deeper side, this short story isactually about the world which this boy lives in, filled with dreamsand ideals. In this story, there is a clear depiction of new love andthe consequences of frustration. Joyce uses the theme of frustrationto show how the once immature boy was able to discover himself. Thefrustration seen towards the end of the story finally kills theideals of the child and he will probably move on from the childidealist that he was. At last, the narrator gets alienated withreality. He realizes that Dublin is not a place with any concepts ofthe mind that he can rely on. Most of the causes of his frustrationare as a result of the bad condition of Dublin and some of theDubliners such as his uncle who takes too long to come home and theslow trains that prolong his trip to the bazaar. These incidents justmagnify the hate that the narrator feels for this place. According tohim, Dublin remains a dead end. The little boys who play in thestreets will never move on from this city (Joyce 98).

Thethings that happen in this short story can also be compared to thethings that happen in the everyday lives of different people. Theevents that delay the trip of the narrator to the bazaar can beinterpreted as the daily obstacles that people must face when theywant to achieve something. This is because nothing comes easy andpeople must learn how to take the obstacles positively and moveforward. As the narrator gets to the bazaar and finds that it isalready closing, he loses hope and does not move on with a differentplan of expressing his feelings to the girl he liked. For thisreason, he will end up losing his love for her and any feelings thathe holds inside will remain to be feelings of infatuation that willnever be known by the girl. The story teaches people that they shouldbe very patient when they want to achieve any objective. In spite ofany challenges they face, they are supposed to move forward and tryanother way. The story also shows how the frustrations that peopleface can help them to mature personally just like the boy did afterhe was unable to buy a token for the girl he admires.


Joyce,James. TheDubliners.Ed. Robert E. Scholes. NSW Department of Education Division ofGuidance &amp Special Education., 1994.

Stone,Harry. &quotAraby and the Writings of James Joyce.&quot TheAntioch Review(1965): 375-410.