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Araby, James Joyce Essay, Research Paper

Comment on the narrative voice of the story. Why does the boy get disillusioned at the end of the story? Does the confrontation with the reality take place only at the end? At what moment in the story and in what details does he confront the actual?

The narrative voice of Araby by James Joyce is the author taking on the role of a male whose name is never mentioned. From the description of the setting we learn that he lives with his aunt and uncle in a working class area of Dublin.

In the beginning of the story we are led to believe that he is a boy, playing in the streets with his friends as children do “The career of our play brought us through the dark muddy lanes ?.” (Joyce, page 105). This same beginning if looked into in depth can also tell us a little about his overall view on life and himself. He mentions the uninhabited house at the end of the street “?detached from its neighbors ?” (Joyce, page 105). This gives us the illusion that he sees himself detached from the rest of the neighbors and feeling alone. He also makes mention of being conscious of the houses around him and of the decent lives within them. Maybe what he is saying is that he does not see his life as decent because he is having all these thoughts about Mangan’s sister. He has all these bottled up emotions that he can not share with anyone and this makes him feel alone hence, the mention of the house standing alone.

As the story progresses we come to realize that he is not a boy but a young adolescent who is fighting feelings of love for the girl next door. Thinking of her constantly, even in the most unromantic places like shopping with his aunt in the market place or standing in the small back room where the priest had died, obsesses him. He sums up his feelings for her perfectly when he says “But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.” (Joyce, page 106).

At the end of the story the young adolescent gets disillusioned because he sees Araby as a mission set upon him by the girl, who after speaking to her for the first time asks if he is going to Araby and he replies that “If I go, ?.. I will bring you something.” (Joyce, page 106) The young man has gone through so much stress and anxiety in one day to get to Araby in order to buy the gift and everything has gone wrong. He is angry with himself for being so vain in the sense that when the girl at the stall approaches him she does not give him her undivided attention thus causing him to say he does not want to buy anything, when in reality that is what he was there for. So he leaves Araby empty handed except for the two pennies and the sixpence in his pocket. His disillusionment could also be in the form that once seeing the girl at the stall he realized that Mangan’s sister could very well be just like this girl and not the saintly figure with the halo of light around her that he has always seen her as.

There is confrontation with reality throughout the whole story. Starting with the description of his neighborhood and the changing of the season, and progressing through various events in life, like his feelings towards the girl, the death of the priest, his uncle being late and so on.

In my opinion the moment in the story when he confronts the actual is when he is in the back room where the priest died. It is a rainy night, he can hear the rain as it falls into the puddles on the ground all his senses are alert and he presses his hand together so hard that they trembled and says “Oh love! O love” (Joyce, page 106). Here instead of keeping his feelings locked inside him, he actually speaks the word of his adoration for the girl, and even though no one is around to hear them, to the young man they are a reality.



Joyce, James. “Araby” in

The McGraw Hill Introduction to Literature Second Edition

ed. Gilbert H. Muller and John A. Williams

New York: McGraw Hill 1995

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