The Symbol of the Church in Joyce's Araby

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Joyce's short story "Araby" is filled with symbolic images of a church. It opens and closes with strong symbols, and in the body of the story, the images are shaped by the young), Irish narrator's impres-sions of the effect the Church of Ireland has upon the people of Ire-land. The boy is fiercely determined to invest in someone within this Church the holiness he feels should be the natural state of all withinit, but a succession of experiences forces him to see that his determi-nation is in vain. At the climax of the story, when he realizes that hisdreams of holiness and love are inconsistent with the actual world,his anger and anguish are directed, not toward the Church, but to-ward himself as "a creature driven by vanity." In addition to the im-ages in the story that are symbolic of the Church and its effect uponthe people who belong to it, there are descriptive words and phrases that add to this representational meaning.
The story opens with a description of the Dublin neighborhoodwhere the boy lives. Strikingly suggestive of a church, the image shows the ineffectuality of the Church as a vital force in the lives ofthe inhabitants of the neighborhood-the faithful within the Church.North Richmond Street is composed of two rows of houses with"brown imperturbable faces" (the pews) leading down to the tall "un-inhabited house" (the empty altar). The boy's own home is set in agarden the natural state of which would be like Paradise, since it contains a "central apple tree"; however, those who should have caredfor it have allowed it to become desolate, and the central tree stands alone amid "a few straggling bushes." At dusk when the boy and hiscompanions play in the street the lamps of the street lift their "feeblelanterns" to the sky of "ever-changing violet" (timid suppliants to thefar-away heavens). Since the boy is the narrator, the inclusion ofthese symbolic images in the description of the setting shows that theboy is sensitive to the lack of spiritual beauty

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