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The story of “Araby” by James Joyce

By maxwittig Apr 05, 2013 914 Words
Max Wittig
Mrs. Asquith
En 111- Sec. 09

The story of “Araby” by James Joyce is one of many stories in the book Dubliners. Here we follow the protagonist as he slowly discovers the truths of adult life. He’s at that stage in his young life when nothing seems to make sense. Joyce shows how the frustration of love can breakdown the barrier between the safety of childhood and the uncertainty of adolescent years.

In this story the main character has fallen madly in love with one of his playmate’s sister. Her aimless flirting leads him to believe these feelings were mutual. Unfortunately, he learns what a broken heart feels like. This is the first time he has had feelings like this for a girl so it’s understandable that he’s be bit confused as what do to and how to act. He quoted saying, “But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires” (Joyce 214). This statement shows how deeply Mangan’s sister touches him. Her words alone are enough to send him into a spiral of adoration. On the other hand, this could also represent how this girl is just playing with him much like she would play any instrument. Finally, out of the blue she speaks to the boy one day asking whether or not he is going to Araby. He gets so lost in her presence he can’t even recall how he answered the question. Sometimes when people are around the ones they like they forget what they’re saying or worse, can’t say anything at all. It’s obvious the boy is nervous when face to face with his love. Following the interaction between the two, at the bottom of page 214, the boy goes on for several lines on how he can’t stop thinking about her, “What innumerable follies laid waste my waking and sleeping thoughts after that evening”, basically explains in black and white that he thinks about her in his dreams as well as all the time when he is awake. Also, this being his first time loving a girl he is immensely confused as to handle these emotions. In the last line of paragraph twelve, page 214, he refers to the “serious work of life as child’s play, ugly monotonous child’s play.” To him, nothing is important in life that stands in his way of being with Mangan’s sister. Referring to it as “child’s play” also shows how he is growing up and setting his priorities straight. After he finally gets to the bazaar and realizes its closing up he over hears a woman conversing with two men. The conversation can be found on page 216 but more importantly is what the woman represents, and that’s Mangan’s sister. The boy hears what he thinks is flirting between this woman and men. The woman is quoted saying things like, “O, I never said such a thing!” and “O, there’s a…fib!” The young boy hears these words and sees Mangan’s sister’s face. He realizes here that his conversation with Mangan’s sister was nothing but casual conversation. At this time the boy is very discouraged due to the fact he will not return with a gift for her and all hope of their love ever being true is lost.

Throughout his journey, the young boy learns some hard truths about life. For example, he previously made plans to go to this bazaar by asking his Aunt and Uncle for permission as well as a little money. They agree to let him go, however on the night of the bazaar his Uncle is late coming home from work, almost two hours. When his uncle finally comes through the door he explains that he forgot all about it and even tries to get him not to go. This further discourages the boy until his Aunt convinces his Uncle to let him go. Maybe if the Uncle was successful in holding him back he wouldn’t have had his heart broken the way it was. The boy learns that not everyone always does what they say they are going to do. Also, he learns that even though something is so important to him doesn’t mean others will understand how or why. In most cases kids can’t wait to be treated like an adult, but not when that means paying full price and begin realizing you have no one but yourself. The boy finally sets off for Araby, and it’s not long till he gets disappointed yet again. At the train station he finds himself sitting by himself in an empty train car. On top of it the train is also running a bit late. The boy learns he is alone in this world. Yes, he has his Aunt and Uncle but even then it’s not the same as a Mom and Dad. He discovers how cold the world can be when there is no one to love which is another reason he tries so desperately to be with Mangan’s sister. After the train ride but before he gets into the bazaar he is crushed yet again. Not being able to find a children’s entrance he is forced to go through the turnstile and pay full adult admission price. The second he turns that bar is the second he walks out of childhood and into the adult world. This in the first instance in his life society treats him like an adult.

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