James Joyce's Araby: A Synopsis

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 75
  • Published : April 24, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
James Joyce’s “Araby” is an emotional short story of a nameless boy in Dublin who has a typical crush on the sister of his friend, Mangan, and because of it, journeys to a bazaar or world fair called Araby, where he finally comes to a realization about his immature actions. This is the basis for the entire story, but the ideas Joyce promotes with this story revolve around how the boy reacts to these feelings and this crush he has, and ultimately how he realizes his tragedy. Joyce spends most of the story introducing the boy’s thoughts on the area in which he lives, and similarly how he feels about the life he has lived thus far; he builds up the boy’s disgust for the simple aspects of his daily life, and how he feels bored with where he lives and what he does. Then, in contrast, he shows us what actually excites the boy; the girl with whom he is infatuated. The key to his crush though, is in what it makes the boy do, and how it forces him to act without logic and personal will. We learn a lot from the boy in “Araby”, most notably how he will act based on his heart and ignore his logical reason, but also how these actions will never lead him too far away from what is considered to be his personal destiny.

The story begins with a description of the setting. The boy feels very emotionless about where he lives, and how his neighborhood appears. He doesn’t find any excitement in it, and Joyce constantly uses negative adjectives in pointing out how the buildings represent this. Joyce writes, “The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces” (302). We imagine this picture of stillness and dullness. Rather quickly we are introduced to Mangan’s sister, something that puts a smile on the boy’s face. He says, “Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side” (302). She is what makes him happy, and what makes his “heart leap” (302), yet none of it can possibly be more than a crush. We know it is nothing more than his hormonal instincts because we learn that he “had never spoken to her” (303) before, and has no idea what kind of person she is. And later, there is more proof to how physical his crush really is, “I did not know whether I would ever speak to her or not or, if I spoke to her, how I could tell her of my confused adoration. But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires” (303). The boy is physically attracted to her, and does not know how to respond, so naturally, his heart guides him towards admiring her from a distance.

But it isn’t long before she says something to him for the first time, and it is at this time that the boy emotionally clings to her every word. During their very first conversation, the girl asked him if he was going to Araby, but he forgets what he answered; probably because at the time it wasn’t important to him. But then as soon as she says the boy should go, he says he will bring her back something if he does go. And then, all of a sudden, Joyce quickly tells us that the boy not only wants to go, but he cannot wait for it, “What innumerable follies laid waste my waking and sleeping thoughts after that evening! I wished to annihilate the tedious intervening days (304). He wants to skip over every day, and arrive at Saturday already. The boy goes from not caring for this bazaar to instantly wanting to go to it, all because of this girl. He is clearly emotionally vulnerable at this point.

The story contains many important moments in which the boy shows the reader the type of person he is, but it isn’t until the end of the story when we finally learn Joyce’s underlying motive. The last two pages, starting with paragraph 24, are very important to the story, and crucial to how it explains the moral the boy learns, and thus, what Joyce tries to tell us. The first thing we read about the boy’s journey to Araby is that he still hates all...
tracking img