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Why does the protagonist in "Araby" feel "driven and derided by vanity?"

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meggie457 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted January 30, 2009 at 7:30 AM via web

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Why does the protagonist in "Araby" feel "driven and derided by vanity?"

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 30, 2009 at 9:34 AM (Answer #1)

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At the conclusion of the story as the narrator leaves Araby, he looks up into the darkness of the nearly empty hall and says, ". . . I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity . . . ." At this point, he has failed in his quest to win the affection of Mangan's sister by bringing her a special gift, and he has realized that the romance and enchantment of Araby has lived only in his mind. He feels foolish and disappointed to the point of despair. His eyes burn with "anguish and anger." He feels contempt for himself for having had such dreams.

Calling himself "a creature" indicates that he does not see himself as an independent, intelligent, reasoning person, but one whose pride, conceit, and self-absorption have brought him to this crushing defeat. That he would think in terms of vanity, a deadly sin, suggests the strong influence of the Catholic Church in his life. The reality of his drab life has destroyed his romantic illusions. He blames himself for ever having believed that he could find love, beauty, and enchantment.

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