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Araby- Vanity Essay, Research Paper

The characters in Araby display a wide spectrum of vanity that encompasses a variety of people. The narrator of the story is the best example of vanity. He is obsessed with a girl that lives next door to him. He never remarks about her personality but does remark that “her image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance.” A mind that is only intrigued by images is the pinnacle of vanity. Another example of this vanity in the narrator is noted within other statements about the girl. The narrator remarks that “her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers.” Her image and vision was now controlling his prayers and the girl is the only God that he now acknowledges within his narrow vanity filled view of the world. Also the narrator speaks about rarely thinking about the future, only present events are taken in due course. The narrator further states that his “body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers” playing his emotions. This statement fully proves the amount of vanity that exists in the narrator. He is fully driven by beauty, and every aspect of beauty controls his life. The narrator conveys Joyce’s view of vanity and displays this view with sinful intentions throughout the story. The pursued girl also displays this view of vanity in many instances. The girl is noted as twisting a silver bracelet while talking of the Araby bazaar. The girl was inadvertently displaying the richness of her life and hinting to the narrator to buying a gift for her. She may not even have wanted to go to Araby but points out her wishes as to get a free gift out of the ordeal. The narrator was obsessed with beauty and the girl was obsessed with materialistic beauty, which are both separate but equal vanity sins.

The situational detail also displays vanity with examples of rash thought and selfish actions. The narrator decides to go to the Araby and purchase something for the girl. He notes that he cannot wait for the day of the festival and he “chafed against the work of school.” This rash decision shows how his vanity clouds his reason. Another example is noted when the narrator states “that life stood between [him] and [his] desire.” This displays a total shunning of hard work and decency; two things that are the foundation of good values and morals. A further example of selfish rash behavior exists within the narrator’s anger in his uncle. The uncle accidentally forgets to hand the narrator money to go to Araby. Upon realizing this the aunt notices the narrator “did not smile.” The narrator is selfish for his own needs and is not in good spirits unless his selfish needs are met. He is totally driven to experience his sin of vanity and will not be stopped by a forgetful uncle or anything else that could hinder his pleasure.

Character traits and events that take place within Araby are used to portray the sin of vanity that is very dominant throughout the story. A predominant effect of vanity causes a degradation of the spirit and free thought. James Joyce provides the reader a glimpse into the selfishness of one boy’s drive towards sin.

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