Literary Analysis of James Joyce’s ‘Araby’
James Joyce’s ‘Araby’ is a short story and part of the 1914 published work of the author entitled ‘Dubliners’. As part of the ‘Dubliners’ storyline, the piece revolves around the time when the narrator of the story is in the process of transition from childhood to adolescence. It examines the life of people living in North Richmond Street, which is described from the point of view of a child. It is through the mystique and imagination of their children that Joyce describes the narrators awakening and sexual awareness. This shall further be highlighted in the journey towards Araby with the quest of finding something worth of value only to feel desolate and shameful in the end.
One of the themes depicted by Joyce in the story reflects the nature of innocence and how it was shattered with the inability to control the situation as it unfolds. Specifically, this can be seen with the narrator as he tries to find ways to satisfy his promise to the girl he cares about in the story. His journey to Araby arguably demonstrates his initiation to adolescence as he finds a way to make the effort worthwhile for a girl (Thurston 1). That is why it was very painful for him to reach his destination with only little time left and had nothing else to bring back to the girl. Clearly, this shattered his perceptions of finding satisfaction not only in seeing Mangan’s sister’s happiness but also his own first romantic experience. It is through such bitter reality that the narrator transcends from his own naïve ideals to something that is real and sadly cruel.
Joyce use of symbolisms such as ‘Araby’ is also crucial in helping readers understand its significance and meaning to the protagonist. Looking closely, the idea of visiting Araby is clearly an exciting and amusing experience for the narrator. It represents something that is different from the monotonous and controlling neighborhood of North Richmond Street. Rather than settling for a quiet and blind street, the narrator has the opportunity to expand his horizons and learn new things with what the place has to offer (Joyce 1). It is through this process that the boy develops an idea of what he expects the place would look like. However, due to situations beyond his control, he arrived at the location late and had to appreciate what was left of it. All these disappointed and shattered the narrator’s perception of the place.
Lastly, there is also the symbolism of darkness in the story. By the end of the story as the narrator realizes that he is unable to do anything in Araby anymore, he is left in the darkness with the realization that his childhood ideals are lost. Arguably, it is in this scenario that the boy undergoes the maturity towards adolescence when he lets go of his childish ideals and learns to accept the bitter reality that fate brings. Like what Chris Power provides, “just like the narrator of Araby, a grown man remembering a single night with a mixture of scorn and tenderness, what we come to look back on is a sequence of these significant moments” (1). Clearly, it shows that people have this kind of experience wherein these negative encounters opened their eyes to the reality of the world.
Overall, Joyce’s ‘Araby’ remain to be a significant storyline within Dubliners showcasing an important transition of the boy towards adolescence. Arguably, this story remains to be an important flashback for the narrator as he recalls an important event that shaped his identity in life and how it shaped who he was in the succeeding stories. It is through Joyce effective use transitions and word choices in the story that the author is able to piece together the boy’s coming of age and loss of innocence. It connects the boy’s journey and the corresponding features that altogether remained to be essential in shaping his personality and identity in the story.
Joyce, James. ‘Araby’ Dubliners. 5 Nov. 2012. Web. Accessed 2 September 2014.
Power, Chris. ‘Darkness in literature: James Joyce’s Araby’ the Guardian. 20 Dec. 2012.Web. Accessed 2 September 2014.
Thurston, Brandon. ‘Literary Analysis of Araby by James Joyce’ Humanities 360. 9 May 2008. Web. Accessed 2 September 2014.