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Joyce uses a first person narrative point of view in "Araby" to tell the story of a boy who learns that his romantic feelings for a girl are illusory.
The boy's perspective is mirrored by his environment in this story. Setting takes a central place in the story and is used to demonstrate the conflicting influences on the boy. Living among the remnants of a priests habitat, the boy finds a mixture of artifacts and books to puzzle over.
The narrator of this story is a young, sensitive boy who confuses a romantic crush and religious enthusiasm.
Also, his neighborhood is "blind", having a dead-end at one end of the street. Shadows dominate the boy's experience of his neighborhood as well.
We see in these details of setting the things that populate the boy's world and also that characterize his perspective. He experiences an anguish of confusion in his emotions for Mangan's sister, not knowing how to explain or how to deal with the symptomatic effects of his romantic affection for the girl.
When he finally feels that he has a clear way to get control of his feelings (by buying something for Mangan's sister at the bazaar), the boy seems poised to bring his inner sensibilities into external form. He expects that going to the bazaar will even be simple.
He is wrong. He finds that articulating his feelings through a purchase is not easy at all. He is thwarted, actually, in this effort while also feeling that his fervent emotions are mocked by the situation. Overhearing the rude and playful conversation of flirting teenagers and watching the lights go out in the hall wherer the bazaar is being held, the boy realizes that his feelings are only real to him.
It dawns on him that the bazaar, which he thought would be so exotic and exciting, is really only a commercialized place to buy things.
His own perspective suddenly shifts. He is thrust back into the shadows, where fantasy reigns (as it has from the beginning of the story. In the shadows, the boys play and imagine and fantacize.) What the boy realizes in the end, as the lights of the hall go out, is that his vision of love was always a fantasy; never real.
The narrator of this story is a young, sensitive boy who confuses a romantic crush and religious enthusiasm; ....the narrator...confuses religious idealism with romance.
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