Coming of Age through Investigation of Sexual Identity
Depicting the search for a long awaited sense of adulthood, “Araby” by James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” reveal young individual’s sense of innocence, despite the apparent presence of the mature and sophisticated emotion of love. “Araby” describes the trials of a young boy, infatuated with a woman, who quickly realizes the harsh realities of the world. Similarly, the girl in “Hills Like White Elephants” is faced with a difficult decision, due to her sexual maturity, or lack there of. The two pieces, although drastically different in plot, inhabit similar themes, eventually leading to a deeper understanding of the main character. Setting the scene for the reader, the vocabulary within “Araby” invokes an immediate feeling of loneliness. Throughout the short story, Joyce’s word choice enlightens the reader as to the emotions and state of maturity within the boy. The young boy uses diction such as “detached” “uninhabited” and “blind” to describe North Richmond Street, despite the obvious happiness of other children on the street. Although he interacts with other children his age, the boy has a longing and curiosity to explore the actions and emotions of adulthood. Perhaps the cause for this unhappiness is the lack of an ideal parenting situation in the boy’s life. Living with his aunt and uncle, the boy has little to look forward to in his quest for maturity and journey into adulthood. In his quest for this knowledge, the boy begins to become infatuated with Mangan’s sister, placing her on a pedestal to the point that when he finally does come into contact with her, he has very little to say. After meeting her, the boy desires to be more intimate with the woman strengthen, and he feels he must attend Araby, a large bazaar to purchase an extravagant gift to win her love. The boy’s decent into disappointment and rejection first occurs when his uncle forgets that the...
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