Even under the best of circumstances the transition from childhood into adulthood is a long and dreary journey that all young men must encounter in life. A road that involves many hardships and sacrifices along the way; and when that road is a lonely one, with only oneself to rely upon, the hardship intensifies to become destructive to those involved. This is particularly true in the story "Araby," where James Joyce portrays the trials and tribulations of a young boy's initiation into adulthood. Many of the boy's problems lie in not being able to come to grips with the harsh reality that no matter how much he wants to be, he is not an adult. His lonely quest ends in failure but result in an inner awareness and a first step into manhood.
We see in the beginning of the story that the boy is faced with a challenge that most boys must encounter one day: girls. He has a crush on his friend's sister which eventually transforms into an obsession; "Her image accompanied me in places the most hostile to romance." All he can do is think about her wherever he goes; and at last when she speaks to him, he becomes confused and doesn't know what to say to her. And after telling her that he will attend the bazaar and bring her something, all he does is dream about it; "I wished to annihilate the tedious intervening days" "The syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated." It was this journey to the bizarre that began his road into manhood.
Throughout the story, Joyce portrays many symbols to show the boys transition into becoming an adult. Joyce says, "I sat staring at the clock for some time and, when its ticking began to irritate me, I left the room." The ticking of the clock symbolized the long and frustrating journey into adulthood; and we see from the fact that it irritated him, shows his desire to become an adult already. Later in the story, Joyce portrays an instance where the boy desires to be a man even though he is not; "From the front window I saw my companions playing below in the street." It is as if he is an adult, towering over his friends, looking down upon them when in reality they are the same age as he is.
After receiving money and permission from his uncle to go to the bazaar, we see another symbol used to show his lonely road into maturity. Joyce says, "I took my seat in a third class carriage of a deserted train. After an intolerable delay the train moved out of the station slowly." The train is the symbol used here to show the long journey that is taking place in his life. The fact that it was deserted and that the train moved slowly shows that the transition into adulthood is a very slow moving time in a boy's life, which can be very lonely at times; "I remained alone in the bare carriage."
Joyce is not portraying how adolescents can act foolish over love; he is portraying the experiences that all boys go through: the desire to be a man. The funny thing is that, as all adults know, that once a boy reaches adulthood and becomes a man, all he ever desires is to go back to being that little boy he once used to be.