Portrayal of Light and Darkness in James Joyce’s “Araby”

Topics: Light, Mind, Darkness Pages: 3 (914 words) Published: October 31, 2011
Portrayal of Light and Darkness in James Joyce’s “Araby”

In James’ story “Araby” the narrator creates an image in the reader’s mind of a dark and dull world where he spends his days playing and becoming infatuated with a friend’s sister. He portrays to us a dull background in order to shows us the “light” in his world of darkness. As the narrator starts his story off he paints a world that is dark by using such words as: blind, uninhabited, and detached. These words give the reader a sense of darkness and solidarity in the story. It seems that the main character in the story sees darkness and disappointment all around him, aside from when he sees the girl he is infatuated with, at these times he sees her as light in his world of utter darkness and despair.

As the story progresses the boy sees his friend’s sister on three separate accounts. The first time he describes her as so, “She was waiting for us, her figure defined by the light of the half-opened door ” (Araby 346). With this we see the first sign of light in his story. In fact, every time the girl is brought up in the story it seems that she is followed by light. The narrator seems to hold the girl in very high reverence, almost portraying her as the only light in his life. His tone changes when talking about Mangan’s sister and seems to have a bit of hope in his tone when thinking of her. This is something that he cant stop doing either; work, school chores they all seem like monotonous jobs to him that he does not want to waste his time with when he could be thinking of her.

When the boy has his first confrontation with her and is asked whether or nor he will be going to Araby, the bazaar, he shows us again another instance in which he sees the girl and light is upon her. “The light from the lamp opposite our door caught the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested there….” (Araby, 347). This once again shows that the boy has a fixation of portraying his “desire” in a celestial...
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