How old is the narrator of "Araby" when he tells the story?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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James Joyce's The Dubliners, which he wrote as a "stages of man," has three stories devoted to the following stages:

  1. childhood
  2. adolescence
  3. mature life
  4. public life
  5. married life, which is inserted between adolescence and mature life.

"Araby" falls into the adolescent stage, a stage in which the teen characters are all failures.  In the first paragraph of this story, the narrator describes North Richmond Street, which is quiet until the Christian Brothers' School sets the "boys free."  As he continues his description of his neighborhood, the narrator describes his play with the other boys; they shout and play "till our bodies glowed." Mangan's sister, for whom the narrator has an imaginative infatuation calls her brother in for "his tea."  Later, when she speaks to the narrator, he remarks,

When she addressed the first words to me I was so confused that I did not know what to answer.

The narrator's  immaturity is clearly indicated by his play and his confusion when he does talk to Mangan's sister, and it is suggested by the romanticized concept of love that he constructs as the Arthurian knight pursuring "the grail," as well as his burgeoning sexual feelings as he lies on the floor in the front parlour where he peeks through the blind, watching her.  These indications, therefore, point to the narrator as a boy in the early stages of adolescence.

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