Routine is a concept that we, as people, have very specific limitations for. Too little routine in our lives and we long for stability; too much routine, on the other hand, and we become crazed prisoners of monotony. In James Joyce’s “Araby”, the account of one Dublin youth, the nameless narrator’s desire for change manifests itself though the pursuance of Mangan’s sister and his continuous frustration with the monotony of daily life, resulting in the eventual epiphany of the desperation of his cause as an unavoidable byproduct of Dublin life.
With the image of Mangan’s sister perpetually implanted in his head, the young boy becomes perturbed with the most basic daily activities. She occupied his every thought, as he struggled to pay attention at school, and as he anxiously awaited the arrival of his uncle home from work. Nothing, whether it is age, his uncle’s tardiness, or the separation of classes, would keep the boy from getting to the bazaar. However, just as dreary lessons interfere with his thoughts of her, everyday delays thwart his plans of buying something for her at the bazaar when his uncle is late returning home from work.
By depersonalizing the story and using nameless characters, Joyce takes the problems of one young boy from Dublin and casts them on the city as a whole. For Joyce, the narrator’s failure at the bazaar keeps grounded the idea, that fulfillment remains foreign to Dubliners, no matter how unique the circumstances.