How do Joyce's stories "Araby" and "Eveline" compare and contrast to each other?"Araby" and "Eveline" byJames Joyce

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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James Joyce writes of the tragic Irish of Dublin in his anthology of stories, "The Dubliners."  For one thing, there is often a delusion that occurs with these characters as they attempt to alter circumstances in their lives.  For instance, in "Araby" the boy perceives Megan's sister as a perfection, much like the maiden for whom the knight strives.  The boy watches across the street and worships from afar this girl who, in his mind, is a paragon.  He envisions himself at the market as he carries her parcels,

I bore the chalice safely through a throng of foes.  Her name sprang to m lips at moments in strange prayer and praises which I myself did not understand.

Likewise, Eveline has a romanticized attitude about the sailor who has come from foreign lands.  He is there, much like the boy's imagined knight, to rescue her.  She dreams of leaving her abusive father and immigrating to another land.  Like the colored print of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the French nun who had a series of visions of the Sacred Heart that hangs on the wall, Eveline envisions the sailor as her savior. However, the reality of the little brother not being also saved strikes Eveline and she is paralyzed as she and her sailor are ready to board the great ship. In an epiphany, she realizes that she does not possess the courage to go, but she perceives danger in the sailor, instead,

a bell changed upon her heart.  She felt him seize her hand....all the seas of the world tumbled about her heart.  He was drawing her into them; he would drown her.  She gripped with both hands at the iron railing....Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.

In "Araby," the boy experiences his epiphany when he realizes that he has created the exotic illusion of Megan's sister; when he arrives at the bazaar, all the booths are closed, and he only hears the petty prattle of the few vendors left:

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

Both characters in the two stories of Joyce experience epiphanies when they realize the truth of their romantic illusions and they are doomed to their lives in brown houses" that reach to "a blind end."  But, unlike the boy of "Araby" who understands that he is to blame for his self-deception, Eveline, at the end, views her sailor as the threat to her romantic idea, rather than her own lack of courage.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the short story collection "Dubliners" by James Joyce, two stories "Araby" and "Eveline" have similarities and differences. One obvious similarity is that both stories concern what it is like to live in Dublin in the early part of the century. The perspectives are different however. "Araby" is written from the point of view of a young boy who has a crush on a slightly older girl. "Eveline" is written from a female point of view, about a boyfriend. Both stories are about unrealised wishes - the boy in "Araby" tries his hardest to while away the interminable waiting before he can get away to the market to buy a gift to impress the girl. He is disappointed and thwarted as the market is closing. His uncle made him late. "Eveline" however is thwarted in her dreams by herself, and her unwillingness to let go of a past that is at once both reassuringly familiar yet stultifyingly boring and dead.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Your question concerns two short stories from James Joyce's Dubliners.  "Araby" and "Eveline" are similar in that they both portray aspects of Dubliners, inhabitants of Dublin, Ireland.  "Araby" is a coming-of-age story in which the protagonist experiences an epiphany or awakening.  Interpretations differ, but in short I'd suggest the boy recognizes the triviality of his obsessions.  He grows up or matures at the close of the story.  He begins the story figuratively blind, as is the street he loves on, and gains sight at the end.

"Eveline" involves an older character who has an opportunity to escape Dublin.  Her mother is dead, her father is abusive, and she has had to take on the role of mother to both her younger brother as well as her father.  She and a foreign man plan to leave Ireland and live in Argentina.  She is torn between the home she has always known along with the responsibilities that come with it (taking care of her brother, for instance), and escaping her terrible existence to start a new, hopefully better life.  In the end, she refuses to leave and stays in Dublin.  Again, interpretations differ, but I see Eveline as choosing the blindness and paralysis of Dublin, because she is afraid.  She clings too tightly to the status quo of her existence.  I see her staying as negative.  Joyce is suggesting that even those Dubliners that have a chance to escape, choose not to. 

The protagonist of "Araby" experiences his epiphany, then, while Eveline rejects her chance to leave the blindness behind.

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