The settings in Araby
The setting in James Joyce's "Araby" is more than background, it is imagery that illuminates the conflict of the story. North Richmond street, where the protagonist lives, is "blind," "silent," and "sombre," with "dark muddy lanes" and houses that "gazed at eachother with brown imperturbable faces." This atmosphere provides a marked contrast with the protagonist's youthful energy and vitality, but the blindness is echoed in the attitude of his aunt and uncle. On the evening that the boy was planning to visit the bazaar, his uncle forgets about the plans, so by the time he arrives home it is almost too late for the boy to make the journey. The priest, who had in the narrator's house as a tenant, had died, leaving his books to yellow and his bicycle pump to rust in the back yard. The essay suggests that the description of items that have grown useless serves to "deepen, through a sense of a dead past, the spiritual and intellectual stagnation of the present." In this bleak place, the narrator's spirit is captivated by a girl, Mangan's sister. His imagination makes her into the princess of a fairytale, not his playmate's older sister who lives down the street. This disparity between the real and the narrator's fantasies ironically foreshadow what will end up with the narrator's dreams. After the narrator was excited at the prospect of buying a token to ensure his place in the girl's heart, he hurries to the bazaar and finds it almost closed. It is not at all what he imagined, he realizes that his "stay was useless" and he would not have anything to give to the girl. Overall, I found the essay on setting and atmosphere quite helpful in my analysis of Araby. Looking carefully at the physical details in the story was essential to understanding the narrator's personal journey.
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