James Joyce's Symbolic "Araby"
James Joyce's "Araby", a story filled with symbolic images of church, religion, death, and decay. It is the story of youthful, sacred adoration of a young boy directed at a nameless girl, known only as Mangan's sister. After visiting "Araby", the mystical place in which he is trying to find the beauty missing from the church as well as his soul, the young narrator realizes his infatuation is misguided as the pain of that realization takes hold. The story takes us to a place with images of a desolate, decaying setting. "North Richmond Street, being blind
" this being a dead end representing the end of his own faith. "An uninhabited house...( an empty church)" "The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives (the lack of faith in religion among those that inhabit the houses) within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces." (613) "The former tenant of our house, a priest, had died in the back drawing room." A representation of the death of the church and religion. "Air musty from having long been enclosed, hung in all the rooms, and the waste room behind the kitchen was littered with old useless papers (the Bible which has been forsaken)." (613) The young narrator then takes us on the journey of his adolescent adoration and infatuation. He describes the nameless girl as though she were surrounded by light and as sacred, even angelic. "The light from the lamp opposite our door caught the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested there and, falling, lit up the hand upon the railing." "Her image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance." (614) Could this have been at Church where he compares her innocence to that of the Virgin Mary. He imagines that this angelic "image" of the nameless girl carries him through "flaring streets, jostled by drunken men" (the decay of society and in the Church) through which he must travel with his aunt. (614) Because of her he...
Cited: Joyce, James. "Araby". 1914. Published in: Literature An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry,
and Drama, Ninth Edition. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Copyright 2005. Pearson
Longman. New York, Boston, San Francisco, London, Toronto, Sydney, Tokyo,
Singapore, Madrid, Mexico City, Munich, Paris, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Montreal.
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