In "Araby" by James Joyce, the narrator uses vivid imagery in order to express feelings and situations. The story evolves around a boy's adoration of a girl he refers to as "Mangan's sister" and his promise to her that he shall buy her a present if he goes to the Araby bazaar. Joyce uses visual images of darkness and light as well as the exotic in order to suggest how the boy narrator attempts to achieve the inaccessible. Accordingly, Joyce is expressing the theme of the boys exaggerated desire through the images which are exotic. The theme of "Araby" is a boy's desire to what he cannot achieve. Joyce uses visual imagery from the world of Christianity, images of light and darkness and auditory imagery in order to enhance the meaning of the story.
The imagery of darkness and light helps to emphasize the young narrator's feeling of difference from his friends. He feels alienation and solitude, since he is the only one in love. The darkness is used for the narrator as a place to hide in-"If my uncle was seen turning the corner, we hid in the shadow until we had seen him safely housed" (30). The boy uses shadow as a place in which he hides in and to watch from distance at Mangan's sister; he is a peeping-tom, a figure of darkness which is clearly inferior to the goddess-like character of Mangan's sister. The darkness is also being used to reflect the boy's solitude. The boy is standing in shadow while his friends are playing in the light, he is upstairs in the dark room looking down at his friends altogether in the light. According to the boy's view, the darkness there is related to how full of hopelessness and loneliness he is because he is the only one in love.
Joyce also uses images from Christianity, especially when describing the boy's view of Mangan's sister. The boy sees the girl as a transmigration of the Virgin Mary, flawless and surrounded by light. And just like the Virgin Mary, Mangan's sister is worshiped by the narrator: "Her name sprang...
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