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What is the theme of the story Araby and how can it be supported?

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sonu | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 25, 2007 at 9:25 AM via web

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What is the theme of the story Araby and how can it be supported?

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted November 25, 2007 at 10:12 AM (Answer #1)

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One theme of Araby concerns innocence and experience.  It could be phrased in terms of the narrator's disappointment in love: "By showing the narrator's romantic view of Mangan in contrast to the bleakness of the neighborhood and the tawdry nature of the carnival, where he hopes to find an item to please her and win her love, James Joyce suggests that romance belongs to the world of the young not the old, and that it is doomed to fail in a world flawed by materialism and a lack of beauty." Evidence would include the early description of the girl, a description of the neighborhood, his plans to go to Araby, and then what he finds when he gets there.  The final sentence of the story could be analyzed closely for a strong conclusion for it shows the humiliation he undergoes when he learns how foolish romance and idealism are.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 25, 2007 at 10:38 AM (Answer #2)

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Another theme revolves around religion and faith.  The narrator has grown up Catholic, and has been sternly instructed in the dogma of this religion.  He associates his life with the images and stories he has learned from church.  He is a religious hero who is honoring Mangan's sister as an earthly "Virgin Mary."  His love for her is pure, and he assumes that she is likewise pure, as his religion has taught him.  He has not learned yet that life is not as clear cut as the lessons he is taught in catechisms.  When he sees the hypocrisy of the church-sponsored bazaar, and hears the woman flirting, and recognizes finally that secular life is not as pretty as his religion has suggested.  He sees church as shine and not substance.  The suggestion is that not only has this experience caused him to question himself and the morality of his society, but also his own faith.

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tica57 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted October 14, 2010 at 8:35 AM (Answer #3)

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The main theme of Araby is loss of innocence. The story is about a pre-teen boy who experiences a crush on his friend Mangan's older sister. He is totally innocent so he does not know what these enormous feelings of attraction to the girl mean. He worships her from afar not daring to speak to her. One day she mentions that she wishes that she could go to Araby but has a prior commitment. He is dumfounded that she has spoken to him, so he says he will go and bring something back for her. He agonizes impatiently in school all week for the time to come when he can go to Araby. Perhaps these children expected some exotic Eastern entertainment like a big party with exotic things to buy. The boy is on a quest to bring a gift to the girl. The poor boy is thwarted in his attempts to get to Araby. By the time he arrives most of the stalls have closed. The one stall that he sees open has porcelain vases and tea sets, nothing that would interest him. The vendor in the stall asks him rudely if he wants to buy anything. He stands there for a minute, as the lights are being turned off when he has his  "epiphany". He realizes that he has been foolish to think that the girl would be interested in him, or that he would ever escape his life in his squalid neighborhood. There will always be obstacles thrown into his path. He sees the Araby as what it is, just a tawdry place to sell things. There is nothing exotic or even pretty about it. He realizes that he had set himself up for disillusionment.

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sansank | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 11, 2012 at 7:41 PM (Answer #4)

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I think the theme is also the prison of routine 

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