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Araby by James Joyce

Araby is a short story written by James Joyce. The story got published in his 1914 collection titled, Dubliners.

About the author :

James Joyce is an Irish poet and novelist. He has contributed much to the modernist avant-garde. He is regarded as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Some of the notable books of Joyce are Ulysses (1922), his novels, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Finnegans Wake (1939), and his short-story collection Dubliners (1914).

Araby – summary :

Araby is a romantic story about a young boy, living in Ireland. The story presents the transformation of the boy into his adolescence years, discovering the reality of life’s journey. The story is in first-person narration, describing the world of the boy from his own senses.

The story takes place around the narrator’s home in the neighborhood in Dublin. The narrator is the boy himself. He has an obsession with his neighbor, Mangan’s sister. The author gives a vivid description of the obsession, from the perspective of the boy on his age of puberty. The boy narrates how the name of the girl summons his blood and how his body reacts to her words and gestures.

Later the story moves to a bazaar place where the narrator wanders. The Saturday’s bazaar named Araby, is where the girl wishes to go, but couldn’t make it because of her concert. However, the boy acts on his obsession for her and decides to go to the place. He even tells Mangan’s sister that he will bring a gift for her from the bazaar.

In the following days, the boy is obsessed with thoughts of the bazaar, where he never intended to go. He begins ignoring his schoolwork, and is filled with anticipation for the Saturday night. The boy arranges to get money for the bazaar from his uncle. However, when the day arrives, the boy’s uncle arrives home late, forgetting his obligation. So, the boys set out late for the bazaar.

On his arrival, most of the stalls are already closed and the place is filled with darkness. The entire place is empty and silent. Even in an open stall, he chooses not to buy anything as anything left seems unattractive or intimidating to him. He chooses to return empty-handed. The story ends with the boy gazing at the darkness and realizing himself as a puppet driven by obsessive desire. He sees himself as being mocked by vanity. The author ends the story describing the eyes of the boy as burning with anger and anguish.

The story leaves the readers with little outright moral answers to the questions of life. The author describes the condition of the boy, relating to the reality of his infatuation. Through the words, the author symbolizes emptiness and darkness of reality surrounding the boy in his age of adolescence.

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