Araby Notes and Questions
"Araby," like much of Joyce’s work, is a fictionalized, autobiographical story. On May 14,1894, a five-day charity bazaar called Araby opened in Dublin. The name alludes to Arabia where open-air shops and rows of peddler carts lined the streets in an exciting cacophony. For children living in Dublin, Arabia enjoyed a mythical, mysterious aura. It was a far away place rich with exotic treasures, much different from damp and dreary Dublin. Joyce was twelve when the bazaar came to Dublin.
The setting for the tale "Araby," the house on "North Richmond Street," was one Joyce and his family actually occupied; they lived at 2 North Richmond off North Circular Road at number 17. It stood on the same "blind" dead end street as the Christian Brothers’ School Joyce attended. This was a male day school maintained by a teaching order of Catholic laymen and founded during a time when it was illegal to provide Catholic instruction to children. The Joyce family moved to the house on North Richmond as a result of a reversal of fortunes, and consequently it was not nearly as spacious and comfortable as their former home.
A knowledge of Irish history, particularly Anglo-Irish relations during the late Victorian period will help you understand Joyce’s many references to happenings outside of the characters’ lives, especially in the area of Irish politics, religion, and music. Some of the references in the story may be unfamiliar to you, so be sure to check the footnotes when they’re provided. For now, its important to understand that for Joyce, Ireland was in a state of decay, and that decay resonates in his works. Take for example his use of the color brown. In the first paragraph of "Araby," look how Joyce personifies the houses on North Richmond Street: "The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces" (paragraph 1).
"Araby" appears as the third story...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document