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How does Joyce use foreshadowing to prepare the reader for the moment of the boy's...

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valleygirl | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 19, 2010 at 10:40 AM via web

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How does Joyce use foreshadowing to prepare the reader for the moment of the boy's epiphany?

 

 

"Araby" by James Joyce

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 19, 2010 at 12:43 PM (Answer #1)

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In the exposition to his story "Araby," Joyce creates a dark and cheerless scene:  the boy's street is "blind"; the houses "gazed at one another with brown, impeturbable faces"; the air in the house is musty; the air outside in the sombre light is cold, stinging the boy and his friends as they traverse the muddy lanes where they run "the gauntlet of the rough tribes from the cottages."

That the boy would romanticize his love for Mangan's sister as an escape from his dismal life seems likely.  When she steps upon her doorstep, in worshipful fashion--after his reference to the Latin works and Catholic devotionals--the boys leave "their shadows and walk up to Mangan's steps" to watch her body move and the "soft rope of her hair" toss from side to side.

The suggestions of this idealization and romantizing of the girl as an escape from his brown, shadowed life is indicated in this exposition:

When she came out on the doorstep, my heart leadped....her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood....Her image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance....All my senses seemed to desire to veil themselves and, feeling that I was about to slip from them, I pressed the palms of my hands together until they trembled....

Sadly, after his uncle returns home late and he arrives late to the bizarre, the boy finds himself later "gazing up into the darkness" where he experiences his epiphany: The closed bazaar is anything but romantic. In this dark, hollow place, the boy's idea of the girl as the holy grail has been destroyed, instead being replaced by the empty, dark hallway where the boy drops his florin.  Bereft, the boy finds himself "gazing up into the darkness":

I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

In addition to this foreshadowing, Joyce's use of first-person narration, which conveys the confused thoughts of the boy and familiarizes the reader with the boy's character, prepares the reader for his epiphany.

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