Conflict in Jame's Joyce's "Araby"

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"Araby", a short story by James Joyce, deals with the passions of a teenage boy for his friend's sister and points out the cynicisms of society. Throughout the story, the readers are allowed to see the struggle of the young boy as he deals with the problems he faces growing up in a poor environment. James Joyce uses conflict with the boy and his family, his social class, and with himself to show how poverty and despair tarnish even the purest of childhood dreams.

Joyce uses conflict within the boy's family to illustrate the hardship the boy must face in his present condition. When the boy first mentions his friend's sister, he tells us he has never even spoken to her, except for a few casual words. He is obsessed as only a young teenager can be. The boy agrees to go out and buy something for her in the market called Araby. However, to even accomplish such a task, he must get money from his family. The boy lives the life of an orphan with his aunt and uncle, who work hard to survive amid the cruelties of the world. The eager boy reminds his uncle about the market, but he finds his uncle busy at work, "He was fussing at the hallstand, looking for the hat-brush, and answered me curtly: 'Yes, boy, I know" (567). This quote shows how his family does not understand the problem the boy is facing. They are too busy trying to make ends meet and do not understand how much this trip means to the boy. His uncle dismisses his request as a mere childish craving. From his uncle's curt reply, the boy already sensed disappointment, " I felt the house in bad humour and walked slowly towards the school. The air was pitilessly raw and already my heart misgave me" (567). However, the boy patiently waits all night for his uncle. His frustration is apparent when he clenches his fists in anticipation. No one seems to comprehend the frustration and anxiety the boy is facing, which in turn adds to the boy's anger. Conflict is further shown when the boy's uncle comes home at 9 P.M., completely forgetting about the boy's request. "My uncle said he was very sorry he had forgotten. He said he believed in the old saying: 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" (568). This quote shows how distant the boy is with his family. Getting through harsh conditions takes first priority, and in turn can leave young children feel unappreciated or unwanted.

Joyce also shows the boy's conflict with his social status and environment. The boy's life is not filled with luxuries and comforts that are characteristics of the privileged class. The surroundings in which they have to live are also indicative of filth and dirt. When the narrator goes shopping with his aunt, Mangan's sister is still uppermost in his mind, and Joyce manages to combine the sights and sounds of tawdry working-class Dublin with the sense that love has elevated the boy above it all. "We walked through the flaring streets, jostled by drunken men and bargaining women, amid the curses of labourers, the shrill litanies of shop boys who stood on guard by the barrels of pigs' cheeks, the nasal chanting of street-singers, who sang a come-all-you about O'Donovan Rossa, or a ballad about the troubles in our native land. These noises converged in a single sensation of life for me: I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes" (567). This quote describes the typical way of life for a poor working class family. Although the conditions are harsh, the boy is in an allusion because all he can think about is the girl. However, this is his innocence because his social status is the reason why he can not get her something from the bazaar. When his uncle finally gives him money, he has to use it for the ride to the marketplace. When he gets to the marketplace, he finally realizes his pitiable situation. Because of his social class and lack of money, he can not earn the respect of the sellers in the marketplace or buy anything. Such graphic descriptions of dreariness solidify the impact...
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