James Joyce

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EROTIC INTERDICTION IN “ARABY”, BY JAMES JOYCE

Luciano Rodrigues Lima
Universidade do Estado da Bahia
Universidade Federal da Bahia

FOREWORD

Before beginning my analysis on the story, I remember a pupil that I had in a translation course, which said to have chosen the profession of her life after translating the story by Joyce. And the deposition of the pupil sharpened my curiosity on the work.

Amongst the stories of Dubliners, by James Joyce, one possesses special characteristics: – the way it joints the subject and the perspective of the narrator, language and symbology, the duration – it is "Araby". The story has been object of different readings, such as "a passage from the innocence for the knowledge", or "the ironic narrative of an adult on its first love", "a history on the oppression shade of the catholic church in Ireland", "the new search of the Holly Grail for the man of the twentieth century ", "the shock between the dream and reality", "the bourgeois sexuality of the boy threatened by the religion, politics and economy", (this last one of Wallace Gray) and many other possible interpretations.

The meticulous use of each word helps to construct the tone of speech, mix of ironic and dissimulated, as it used to be with every speech that approached the sexuality, in Joyce’s Dublin.

The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one to another with brown imperturbable faces. (our italic) (Joyce, 2000)

The houses of North Richmond street represent the people, they are under the technique of personalization. If we search the meaning of gaze, in the Merriam-Webster, we will have: “to fix the eyes in a steady intent; look often with eagerness or studious attention”. It is the very image of the sexuality in that city: an imperturbable appearance and, on the inside, the meticulous and concupiscent intention. Also, it is the sexuality through the masculine point of view; the look, the surface, the movement, the glance. The story takes place in the winter, and the cold of Dublin conspires against sexuality, but it does not annul it and yet it camouflages it more: “The cold air stung us and we played till our bodies glowed.” (Joyce, 2000) The boy, "hero" of the history, is at the traumatic moment of mutation from infancy to adolescence. He starts to search, in everything, the erotic promises of life, the term erotic here in the broad sense, that implies in the things of the sexuality, the pleasure, the health of the body, the perception for the senses, the fantasies and amusements. Amongst the old books left by the former lodger, he prefers the Memoirs of Vidocq because it had yellow pages, i. e. had some color. The smell of the stables is also in the air and in the nostrils of that boy. The interest in the sister of Mangan, his friend of tricks, is introduced subtly, through launches of the adolescent “voyeurism”. A marking aspect in the narrative is that the words that describe the scenes are of the adult memorialist narrator, but the eyes that look at belong to the eager adolescent who devours everything with his peeping: the touch of the dress on the girl’s body, the tossing of her hair, when she walked, the movement of her bracelets, the white curve of the neck and the edge of her petticoat that appeared, in the first meeting they had had. Although the adolescent love is a compound of sexual fervor and platonic worship, in the story by Joyce it is the first one, the sexual impulse, that motivates the action.

Despite the sacralization of the figure of the beloved girl, which produces an unattachable image, it is through well concrete and material acts that the history flows. For example, the scene of solitary voyerism in the room where the priest had died, the turning point of the story plot, from the scene of the meeting with the girl, which brings the relation for the material plan, symbolized by the promise: "If I go, I said,...
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