Innocence: Never Gained, Only Lost
Innocence lost can never be recovered. Because of this, authors and poets from all walks of life are drawn to writing stories and poems that deal with characters losing their innocence, a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. When a character in a story loses their innocence, it allows the reader to identify and analyze the value of the innocence the character once had and the experience that destroyed it. Innocence is lost when something happens that is so completely outside one’s perceived realm of possibility, it shakes one’s faith in the world’s apparent fairness or purity. In “Araby”, James Joyce introduces the reader to a nameless boy who, after dreaming about the wondrous bazaar and the gift he would buy for the love of his life, finds out that what he’s been daydreaming exclusively about isn’t as special as he thought. In fact, the boy is so overwhelmed by the conflict between what he imagines the bazaar to be and what it actually is, he completely gives up and describes himself as a “creature driven and derided by vanity” (Joyce 95). In one fell swoop, a boy previously filled with wonder and excitement at the thought of going to the bazaar and buying something for the girl with whom he’s infatuated is now disgusted with himself, realizing that there is no escape from the mundane prison that is his city, and that the girl he once thought he loved, he barely knows. Even in the story she is only mentioned as the sister of the protagonist’s friend because her actual identity doesn’t matter to the reader or to the boy: “Mangan’s sister” is merely a symbol of what is tempting and nice to look at, but with no real value of which to speak. The boy was so convinced that the bazaar would be an exotic glimpse of the east, full of wonderments he could bring back, that when he realized Araby wasn’t as he thought, he also realized that perhaps the girl he’d been fantasizing about wasn’t extraordinary...
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