Character Analysis of the Narrator in “Araby” by James Joyce
While “growing up” is generally associated with age, the transition from adolescence to adulthood in particular comes with more subtlety, in the form of experience. James Joyce’s short story “Araby” describes the emotional rollercoaster of its protagonist and narrator - a young boy in love with his best friend’s sister - caused by the prospects of a potential future with his crush. The narrator of James Joyce’s “Araby” is an innocent, emotionally sensitive character, who takes his first step into adulthood through his heart-wrenching experience with first love. The conflicts of “Araby” occur in the narrator’s mind, and they revolve around the narrator’s first crush, his best friend’s sister, who is only referred to as “Mangan’s sister”. The narrator was about twelve or thirteen years old at the time, and his nearing so close to adolescence could depict ulterior, provocative motives for admiring Mangan’s sister so deeply. However, as the narrator describes his feelings for his crush, we learn that his intentions are genuinely innocent, and he is simply overwhelmed with puppy love. The first encounter the narrator has with his crush leaves him nearly dumbfounded - he was utterly confused by her first words to him, and he notes that he still cannot remember his response. The narrator describes his crush’s subtle movements: “While she spoke she turned a silver bracelet round and round her wrist” (Joyce, 109), an observation most adolescent boys, if not men in general, would barely notice. Joyce continues to reveal the narrator’s genuine enamoration for his crush when he describes what the narrator sees her as during their first encounter - the symbol of innocence - an angel. The light from the lamps inside the houses behind her illuminate her body, and “fell over on one side of her dress and caught the white border of a petticoat, just visible as she stood at ease.” (Joyce, 109) While the narrator’s...
Cited: Joyce, James. “Araby”. 1914. Literature: A Portable Anthology, Third Edition.
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