Araby by James Joyce (Critical Analysis)

Araby by James Joyce summary analysis explanation

The story “Araby” deals with the emotional problems of a young bashful boy. It gives an insight into human beings. It also represents a tussle between the world of dreams and the world of reality.

The author during his boyhood lived in a blind alley at North Richmond Street. He often remained occupied in playful activities with his friends at night. All the boys from neighboring houses met in the street after dinner at night during winter.

Mangan was one of his playmates whose sister generally came out to call him for tea. All the boys including the author showed great interest in her figure and silently went to see her, while the girl waited for them with the half-opened door. The author appreciated her figure and looked at her swinging dress with keen interest. Gradually, his appreciation developed into imperceptible love.

The author lived with his childless uncle and aunt. As he could not find parental love and no other boy or girl in his house to share his feelings, he became shy and bashful in his general behavior. He began to love and worship the neighboring girl silently but did not express his feeling to her.

Often in his daydreams, he would think of having a meeting with her, but would always feel confused in expressing his love for her even in such reveries. He loved her so deeply and so passionately that his body was like a harp and her words, and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires. Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side. Every morning he lay on the floor in the front parlor watching her appearance at the door. When she came out at the doorstep, the author ran for his books and followed her. When they reached the point where their ways parted, the author quickened his pace and crossed her.

The image of the girl haunted him whether he went shopping with his aunt or was at prayer. All ideas associated with the various objects came to a full stop on the image for the girl. Her name sprang to his lips even during prayers. His emotions were so confused that sometimes his eyes were filled with tears.

One evening  Mangan’s sister spoke to him, she asked him if he was going to Araby bazaar. The author was so confused and did not know whether to reply yes or no. She expressed her liking for the splendid bazaar and said she would love to visit Araby, but she could not go due to retreat. He promised to bring something for her if he went to the bazaar.

After that evening, whether awake or asleep his mind was always occupied by her image. Her image intervened in his studies. The word Araby enchanted him and his soul enjoyed an immeasurable pleasure by its association. On Saturday morning, he reminded his uncle that he had to visit the bazaar in the evening but he did not much care for his anxiety. The boy remained agitated and worried throughout the day.

After waiting for a long time, he got irritated. He went on the upper part of the house and wandered from room to room to lessen his tension. At last, his uncle came after nine o’clock and gave him some money. The boy set out for his destination to Araby and reached Araby by train at about ten o’clock. He was greatly disappointed to see that nearly all the stalls were closed and the greater part of the bazaar was in darkness. Only a few shops were still open.

The author went over to one of the stalls and examined pots and flowered tea sets. At the door of the stall, a young lady was talking and laughing with two young gentlemen. She asked him indifferently if he wanted to buy anything. He replied in negative and felt great humiliated He felt sad, as he had no enough money to purchase a gift for his beloved Gazing up in the darkness and with the thought of his failure to purchase a gift, he suffered great mental agony and his eyes burned with anger and anguish.

Dark Aspects of Modern Civilization

The boy or the narrator is the central character of the story “Araby”. He is a teenager, a school-going boy. He is in such a stage of life where children develop hormones they get passionate sexual intensity due to which they are easily pulled by the opposite sex. So, he stands for the boys of his own adolescent age. He can be called “everyman” that is, a type of character.

Like all the boys of his age, the boy being passionate falls in love with the first girl he comes across. She lives in his neighborhood. She is unaware of his passionate love for fear. The boy is unusually bashful and is unable to express his feelings of love for her to her. He only watches her movements, her face, her gait, and her physical beauty. And, he adores her silently and secretly. He is so much involved in the girl that nothing pleases him. Her image remains in his imagination and it goes with him even to the places hostile to romance.

Thus, the story shows that adolescence and innocence both go side by side. The boy flows in the sea of passions but innocently unaware of the bitter realities of life. He is one of those dreamers and idealists who are unable to understand the stark realities of life> When he experiences the bitter realities of life, he becomes utterly despaired.

The message of Story

The story “Araby” is a bitter comment on the grown-ups who always keep growing up at a distance. It teaches us that there should not be a breach between grown-ups and our youths. Parents are normally prone to behave with their teenagers in some strict terms. They try to be over-intruding in the affairs of their young ones. Unconsciously, they underestimate the feelings of young ones. They leave them to themselves in most of the emotional matters. They disregard their sexual problems.

Mostly, they do not tell them anything about the development of hormones. The story shows how sexual urges may get hold of a young mind. It is but a natural instinct that cannot be suppressed. There is much need to educate young ones in matters of practical life. Grown-ups particularly parents must try to prepare the young ones to face the realities of life. They should also help them with their psychological problems. It is the duty of elders to guide younger to walk on the bare rocks of truth by and by. They should know how to face the realities, and not to follow the shadows. The hero of the story learns for himself that life is no bed of roses.

Last but not least, parents should cease to be strict parents. They should be rather friendly when their children are teenagers. They should guide them in all matters of practical importance including sexual problems.

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