Araby, James Joyce
“Araby” James Joyce
The following entry presents criticism on Joyce's short story “Araby” (1914). See also James Joyce Short Story Criticism.
Considered one of Joyce's best known short stories, “Araby” is the third story in his short fiction collection, Dubliners, which was published in 1914. It is perceived as a prime example of Joyce's use of epiphany—a sudden revelation of truth about life inspired by a seemingly trivial incident—as the young narrator realizes his disillusionment with his concept of ideal love when he attempts to buy a token of affection for a young girl. Critical interest in the story has remained intense in recent decades as each story in Dubliners has been closely examined within the context of the volume and as an individual narrative. As the third story, “Araby” is often viewed as an important step between the first two stories—“The Sisters” and “An Encounter”—and the rest of the collection.
Plot and Major Characters
The narrator of “Araby” is a young boy living with his aunt and uncle in a dark, untidy home in Dublin that was once the residence of a priest, now deceased. The boy is infatuated with his friend's older sister, and often follows her to school, never having the courage to talk to her. Finally she speaks to him, asking him if he is going to attend a visiting bazaar, known as the “Araby.” When she indicates that she cannot attend, he offers to bring her something from the bazaar, hoping to impress her. On the night he is to attend, his uncle is late coming home from work. By the time the young boy borrows money from his uncle and makes his way to the bazaar, most of the people have left and many of the stalls are closed. As he looks for something to buy his friend's sister, he overhears a banal young salesgirl flirt with two young men. When the disinterested salesgirl asks him if he needs help, he declines, and he walks through the dark, empty halls, disillusioned with himself and the world around him.
Each story in Dubliners contains an epiphanic moment toward which the controlled yet seemingly plotless narrative moves. Among the best-known epiphanies is the one that occurs in “Araby,” in which a young boy recognizes the vanity and falsity of ideal, romantic love. It has also been interpreted as a story about a boy's growing alienation with his family, religion, and the world around him. Moreover, it is viewed as autobiographical, reflecting Joyce's own disillusionment with religion and love. As such, Dubliners is considered a collection of stories that parallel the process of initiation: the early stories focus on the tribulations of childhood, then move on to the challenges and epiphanies of adulthood. A few critics have detected the theme of Irish nationalism, as Joyce employs Irish legends to indicate the vast discrepancy between the narrator's idealized view of the girl and the harsh reality of the bazaar. Moreover, the theme of the quest is a prevalent one in “Araby,” as the young narrator embarks on a dangerous journey to win the hand of a young maiden.
For many decades Dubliners was considered little more than a slight volume of naturalist fiction evoking the repressed social milieu of turn-of-the-century Dublin. When critics began to explore the individual stories in the collection, much attention was focused on the symbolism in “Araby,” particularly the religious imagery and the surrounding of the bazaar. In fact, some commentators have invested the story with many layers of meaning and religious symbolism; others urge a more superficial reading. Literary allusions, influences, and autobiographical aspects of the story have also been a rich area for study; in fact, commentators have found traces of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, Dante's Commedia, and Homer's The Odyssey in Joyce's story. Much critical attention has focused on stylistic elements, especially the impact of the narrative voice in “Araby.” As scholars continue to mine Joyce's Dubliners for critical study, “Araby” remains one of the most highly regarded and popular stories in the volume.
The Portable James Joyce 1947
The Essential James Joyce 1948
Chamber Music (poetry) 1907
A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man (novel) 1916
Exiles (drama) 1918
Ulysses (novel) 1922
Poems Penyeach (poetry) 1927
Collected Poems (poetry) 1936
Finnegans Wake (novel) 1939
Stephen Hero (unfinished novel) 1944
Letters 3 Vols. (letters) 1955–1966
Critical Writings of James Joyce (criticism) 1959
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SOURCE: “Joyce's ‘Araby’: Paradise Lost,” in Perspective, Vol. 12, No. 4, Spring, 1962, pp. 215–22.
[In the following essay, Stein surveys the religious imagery in “Araby.”]
As L. A. G. Strong has observed in The Sacred River, “Christianity for Joyce is inescapable, and his critics cannot escape it either.” And he is right. No matter the work, Joyce always views the order and disorder of the world in terms of the Catholic faith in which he was reared. Turn though he does at times to other sanctions for his beliefs, he never quite shakes off the power of “a symbol behind which are massed twenty centuries of authority and veneration.” Only the life of Christ objectifies the absolute moral standards by which man can make sense out of life.
This is true, in particular, of Dubliners. In their egoistic preoccupation with temporal pleasures and aspirations, the protagonists in this collection of stories forget that the willing sacrifice of Christ promises them deliverance from all the agonizing frustrations and sufferings in the material universe of time and space. Prey to all the fears of their darkened spirit, they lack the will to deny the temptations of sin and therefore paralyze the vitality of their souls. But, paradoxically, even when enslaved by their perverse and perverting desires, they still yearn for true selfhood—for the state of Adam in...
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SOURCE: “James Joyce and Chaucer's Prioress,” in English Language Notes, Vol. 2, No. 2, December, 1964, pp. 127–32.
[In the following essay, Lyons considers the influence of Chaucer's Prioress' Tale on Joyce's “Araby.”]
When Joyce's commentators mention the influence of Chaucer, the detail they cite most frequently is the character of Molly Bloom, which reminds them in its licentiousness and common sense of the Wife of Bath.1 I think it can be shown, however, that Joyce's use of Chaucer is more than casual. There is no doubt of his knowledge of and respect for the writings of Chaucer. In 1912 he wrote, as part of an examination for a degree from the University of Padua, an essay on “The Good Parson of Chaucer.”2 Six years earlier he had written to Grant Richards, who had requested that some allegedly obscene passages be deleted from Dubliners before he published it, “… I suspect that it [English literature] will follow the other countries of Europe as it did in Chaucer's time.”3 Joyce's reference to Chaucer in connection with Dubliners may have more significance than as a mere prop to his argument that the English are more prudish in literary matters than Continentals. Both The Canterbury Tales and Dubliners illustrate those alternating attitudes of irony and sympathy which have been seen by critics in the...
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SOURCE: “‘Araby’ and the Writings of James Joyce,” in Antioch Review, Vol. 25, No. 3, Fall, 1965, pp. 375–410.
[In the following essay, Stone explores the literary allusions and symbolism found in “Araby,” contending that Joyce “was careful to lacquer his images and actions with layer after layer of translucent, incremental meaning.”]
Love came to us in time gone by When one at twilight shyly played And one in fear was standing nigh— For Love at first is all afraid. We were grave lovers. Love is past That had his sweet hours many a one; Welcome to us now at the last The ways that we shall go upon.
—Chamber Music, XXX (written in 1904 or earlier).
And still you hold our longing gaze With languorous look and lavish limb! Are you not weary of ardent ways? Tell no more of enchanted days.
—A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1904–14).
Lust, thou shalt not commix idolatry.
—Finnegans Wake (1922–39).
“We walk through ourselves,” says Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses. Stephen is trying to show how Shakespeare, or for that matter how any artist (creator of “Dane or Dubliner”), forever turns to...
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SOURCE: “‘Araby’ and the Palimpsest of Criticism or, Through a Glass Eye Darkly,” in Antioch Review, Vol. 26, No. 4, Winter, 1967, pp. 469–89.
[In the following essay, ApRoberts refutes Professor Stone's thesis in the essay reprinted above, asserting that “Araby” is a self-contained story and should be read at face value.]
“You see how easy it is to deceive one who is an artist in phrases. Avoid them, Miss Dale; they dazzle the penetration of the composer. That is why people like Mrs. Mountstuart see so little; they are bent on describing so brilliantly.”
—George Meredith, The Egoist
Vanity flee and verity fear.
—James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
Everywhere in modern criticism the tide of symbolic interpretation runs full. Exegetes search the literature of the Middle Ages for the four-fold levels of Dante's allegory and return from below the surface dives into the Miller's and the Reeve's tales bearing interpretations by which these stories undergo a sea-change into some thing which, if not rich, is at least strange. For several years now some critics have lived in the murky depths of symbolic interpretation of Shakespeare without ever emerging to breathe the fresh air or glimpse the light of common day. Many Dickensians scorn the...
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SOURCE: “Arabesques: Third Position of Concord,” in James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 1, Fall, 1967, pp. 30–9.
[In the following essay, Benstock supports Professor Stone's thesis in the essay reprinted above, and agrees that “Araby” serves “as a vital introduction of many of the motifs of the later works of James Joyce.”]
“You must say ‘paragon’: a paramour is, God bless us, a thing of naught.”
—A Midsummer-Night's Dream
“I’m the Sheik of Araby, Your love belongs to me; At night when you’re asleep, Into your tent I’ll creep.”
—“The Sheik of Araby”
“… (if you can spot fifty I spy four more) …”
In the Fall ’65 issue of the Antioch Review Harry Stone marched through James Joyce's “Araby” in hobnailed boots, kicking up many muddy chunks. In retaliation Robert P. ApRoberts in the Winter ’66-’67 issue wafted over the same terrain, leaving hardly a trace. They collided but never met. If it is necessary to choose between their two approaches to the story (and I think it is), my preference is for the over-reacher rather than the under-achiever. In doing so I reject the Helen Gardner critical dictum quoted by Professor ApRoberts (“The critic's task is to assist his readers to read for themselves.”); I see no reason for the critic...
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SOURCE: “‘Araby’ and Portrait: Stages of Pagan Conversion, in English Language Notes, Vol. 7, No. 3, March 3, 1970, pp. 209–13.
[In the following essay, Turaj finds a parallel between “Araby” and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, maintaining that the two works represent two different stages in Joyce's personal development.]
“Araby” is regarded as the story of a boy for whom young love becomes mystical and religious. It is partly a story of his initiation into love, and it is partly a story of his conversion from orthodox religion. Besides being a principal theme in Joyce's writing, this dialogue of the world and the spirit is, of course, a main fact in his life. A striking resemblance between the devices and themes of “Araby” and Chapter IV of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man suggests the process of the resolution of this dialogue, this conflict, both in Joyce's fiction and in his personal conversion to esthetic worldliness in his own life, as he recollects this artistically. That is, the resemblance really shows two stages in the conversion from Catholicism to “Paganism” of Dedalus-Joyce.
Chapter IV of the novel, the pivotal chapter, focuses on Stephen Dedalus' visit to the director priest, who attempts to recruit him for the Catholic priesthood. It then changes focus to reveal the opposite drive in Stephen's life as he...
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SOURCE: “The Green Stem of Fortune,” in A Scrupulous Meanness: A Study of Joyce's Early Work, University of Illinois Press, 1971, pp. 49–56.
[In the following essay, Brandabur provides a thematic overview of “Araby.”]
From the harsher portrayals of Dublin's youth encountering perversity in the first two stories, Joyce turns to romance. For “Araby” displays characteristics of “Romance” described by Northrop Frye in Anatomy of Criticism most clearly as it concerns the hero's power of action: “If superior in degree to other men and to his environment, the hero is the typical hero of romance, whose actions are marvelous but who is himself identified as a human being. The hero of romance moves in a world in which the ordinary laws of nature are slightly suspended.”1 Although like all the stories in Dubliners, “Araby” falls most obviously into the ironic mode, for the reader finds himself “looking down on a scene of bondage, frustration, or absurdity,”2 the protagonist attempts to transcend his limitations by “romantic” means. He earnestly imagines a “eucharistic” suspension of the laws of nature. Of course, Joyce works most effectively by mingling the ironic and romantic modes, as he will mix the tragic and ironic in “A Painful Case,” the comic and ironic in “The Dead.” In all three stories the “heroism” cannot be...
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SOURCE: “Araby,” in James Joyce and the Craft of Fiction: An Interpretation of Dubliners, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1972, pp. 54–67.
[In the following essay, San Juan offers a stylistic analysis of “Araby.”]
Among the various reasons why the existing interpretations of “Araby” have failed to grasp the principle of organization informing the narrative, I would point to the wrong emphasis placed upon stylistic details—the texture of description, the rhetorical appeals of imagery and ambiguous allusions, symbols, and so on—and the distortion of form created by this emphasis.1 For if the formal whole of the story resides in the parts, the verbal devices which constitute the means of representation, then we may ask why the narrative has to present events in a sequence. And why should such an experience, consisting not only of images or of thoughts but also of decisions leading to acts that change the situation of the protagonist—why should the boy's experience be arranged in the precise order of revelation that we find in the story?
We can clearly account for the kind of formal wholeness realized by the story if, assuming that the whole is composed of a meaningful sequence of parts, we can formulate the principle enabling the story to exercise its power upon us through its own aesthetic integrity. My concern then would be with the formal structure...
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SOURCE: “Joyce's ‘Araby’ and Imaginative Freedom,” in Research Studies, Vol. 44, No. 3, September, 1976, pp. 183–88.
[In the following essay, Rosowski views the primary conflict in “Araby” “not between the child's and the adult's visions, but between psychological and factual realities.”]
Readers have long recognized the importance of “Araby” in Joyce's canon. The third and final story of the childhood phase of the Dubliners (before adolescence, maturity, and public life), “Araby” portrays an early stage of the struggle that Joyce develops later in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and in Ulysses. The story is viewed usually as portraying the initiation of a young boy: the boy moves from the child's world of romance to the adult world of reality and, in the final lines, to disillusionment as he realizes himself trapped in “the hell of the world of reality.”1 Yet basic problems remain unresolved with this interpretation: the narrative voice is unnecessarily complicated; the relevance of the opening paragraphs to the whole is unclear; and, finally, the boy's reaction in the last line of the story far exceeds his recognition of “reality.” I believe that in the last paragraph of the story the boy does not move to an “adult” world but, instead, continues the human cycle of tension between imaginative flight and factual realities by...
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SOURCE: “The Motivation for Anguish in Joyce's ‘Araby’,” in Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. 15, No. 1, Winter, 1978, pp. 11–17.
[In the following essay, Brugaletta and Hayden question important plot elements of “Araby.”]
In his discussion of James Joyce's “Araby,” Epifanio San Juan, Jr. contributes to Joyce studies a predominantly valid discussion of plot.1 We agree with San Juan in his assumption of the “relevance and qualified validity of all the existing interpretations of ‘Araby.’”2 Our only disagreement with this critic's view of the story—our point of departure from that of other critics who have discussed the story—is in the evidently universal assumption that the one crucial conversation between the narrator and Mangan's sister actually took place.3 “The boy promised Mangan's sister to bring her a gift,” San Juan believes, later referring to the central passage as a “factual transcript of the first verbal exchange.”4
In our examination of “Araby” and of a pattern which relates it to certain other stories in Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,5 we find little reason to believe that Joyce meant to represent the physical presence of Mangan's sister in that back room where the priest had died. Indeed, there is much evidence that her absence from that...
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SOURCE: “‘Sing Three Songs of Araby’: Theme and Allusion in Joyce's ‘Araby,’” in College Literature, Vol. 5, No. 2, Spring, 1978, pp. 125–32.
[In the following essay, Morse explores the different literary allusions found in “Araby.”]
I’ll sing three songs of Araby And tales of fair Cashmere, Wild tales to cheat thee of a sigh, Or charm thee to a tear And dreams of delight shall on thee break, And rainbow visions rise, And all my soul shall strive to wake Sweet wonder in thine eyes. And all my soul shall strive to wake Sweet wonder in thine eyes.
—W. G. Wills, “Araby”1
Adults enjoy being reminded, at a safe distance, of their own successful voyage through the rites of passage; for time first blunts, then obscures, the pain of being rejected by the first usually inappropriate and always unapproachable love. Many of the excesses committed in the name of Love appear later quite ridiculous yet with what great earnestness they were originally carried out! The dawn of adolescence found most of us supremely confident of our rightful place at the center of the universe and, therefore, all our acts held intrinsic importance not for ourselves alone but for the world at large. Later stepping back to “see ourselves as others see us,” we discovered that our emotional as well as physical universe was no longer Ptolemaic but Copernican, with...
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SOURCE: “Romantic Ireland, Dead and Gone: Joyce's ‘Araby’ as National Myth,” in Colby Library Quarterly, Vol. 15, 1979, pp. 188–93.
[In the following essay, Egan examines Joyce's utilization of Irish culture and history in “Araby.”]
Although A. Walton Litz points out that a “careful analysis of the last pages of ‘Araby’ shows how the boy's personal despair is extended symbolically until it encompasses religious and political failure,”1 perhaps insufficient attention has been given to the story's national imagery drawn from Irish culture and history and set in motion by the narrator's love for Mangan's sister, “the brown-clad figure cast by my imagination.”2 The allusion here is to James Clarence Mangan, the nineteenth-century Irish poet, and primarily to his best-known work, the love song “Dark Rosaleen” (Roisin Dubh in Irish, or “Dark Little Rose”)—in part a translation from the Gaelic of a lyrical address to a personified Ireland written by a sixteenth-century Tyrconnell minstrel (probably one of the MacAwards, the bardic retainers of the O'Donnells), but chiefly, in its present form, the poetic creation of Mangan himself. Ben L. Collins sanctions such an interpretation of Mangan's sister in “Araby”: “To the world, Mangan is known, if at all, for his ‘The Dark Rosaleen.’ … By allusion to this poem, the themes of love and...
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SOURCE: “Joyce's Narrative Strategies in ‘Araby,’” in Modern Fiction Studies, Vol. 28, No. 1, Spring, 1982, pp. 45–52.
[In the following essay, Morrissey analyzes Joyce's narrative techniques.]
In his analysis of Roland Barthes's poetics of the novel, Jonathan Culler points to a “major flaw” in Barthes: “the absence of any code relating to narration (the reader's ability to collect items which help to characterize a narrator and to place the text in a kind of communicative circuit).”1 Yet, “identifying narrators is one of the primary ways of naturalizing fiction.”2 Paradoxically, Culler decides that although “the identification of narrators is an important interpretive strategy, … it cannot itself take one very far.”3 By examining Joyce's narrative strategies in Dubliners, we can challenge Culler's notion that “the identification … cannot … take one very far” in the interpretation of a text. We may also be able to make some tentative suggestions about the poetics of narration.
Any careful reader of Dubliners is struck by the strength and oddity of “Araby.” Though it is shorter than “An Encounter,” which precedes it, or “A Little Cloud,” eight stories into the collection, “Araby” is far more memorable. The reason can be found in the narration. The first two stories in Dubliners are...
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SOURCE: “Narration of Reading in Joyce,” in Texas Studies in Literature and Language, Vol. 29, No. 4, Winter, 1987, pp. 387–92.
[In the following essay, Robinson considers the imagery in “Araby” and its relationship to the narrator of the story.]
… Of the three opening stories in Dubliners, “Araby” presents by far the clearest framing of narrated events within the controlling viewpoint of a definite narrator. Here, finally, is a narrator whose relation to his early self can be confidently gauged and whose interpretation of the past has some claim to authoritativeness—or so it seems. A fairly consistent level of ironic detachment helps us locate the narrator, who then serves as a model for what we might think about the young boy's adolescent passion. Like the other two stories, “Araby” is largely about interpretation—reading—whether of the written word or of signs encountered or acted out in society. As readers we are offered a chance to read these signs more skillfully than does the narrator himself.
As the last story of the opening triad, “Araby” unites the preceding focuses of desire (for the exotic, for the mysterious, for meaning, for truth) in the culminating symbol of sexual desire, Mangan's sister, who becomes the occasion or site, finally, of the boy's imaginative “writing”; that is, he responds to her unattainability as an object of...
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SOURCE: “Trials of Adolescence,” in Joyce's Uncertainty Principle, Princeton University Press, 1987, pp. 3–38.
[In the following excerpt, Herring reveals the structural and thematic links between Joyce's “Araby” to “The Sisters” and “An Encounter.”]
“Araby” is the last in a set of three stories about how a youth is thwarted in his quest for transcendence. Each of the stories begins in the tedious surroundings of home or school, in reaction to which boys set for themselves idealized destinations involving eastward journeys: in one case it is a mystical state of mind associated with the priesthood, exotic dreams, and Persia; in the next story it is the Pigeon House at the most easterly point of Dublin's harbor (and anything that might symbolize). In the third story a bazaar named “Araby” casts an eastern enchantment over an adolescent mind. A further common characteristic is that the boys lack a kind of enlightenment necessary for their graduation to a more advanced stage of maturity; this they may eventually achieve, but the greatest benefit of their shocking rites de passage will be to illustrate the uncertainty principle of life itself.
“Araby” immediately reveals structural and thematic links to its two predecessors:
North Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian...
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SOURCE: “The First Trinity,” in The Cracked Looking Glass: James Joyce and the Nightmare of History, Susquehanna University Press, 1992, pp. 23–37.
[In the following excerpt, Wachtel views “Araby” as the third story in a trilogy—the other two being “The Sisters” and “An Encounter”—and deems it an important transition to the other stories included in Dubliners.]
Although they depict the meanness, entrapment, and blindness of the citizenry, the first two stories of Dubliners are actually about the discovery of those same qualities in the protagonists. “Araby,” third in the series, is the final example of such self-scrutiny before the authorial voice presents the victims and the struggling might-have-beens of Dublin life.
Until the protagonists of the first stories discover and acknowledge their errors, it seems to them possible to direct their disapproval at others. In “The Sisters,” the boy resents Old Cotter and refuses the offering of the old woman. In “An Encounter,” the protagonist disdains Mahony and the Dillon boys. Similarly, in “Araby” the sources of failure appear at first to reside outside, in certain relatives or sales people, in streets or houses or the bazaar where the fragment of conversation we alluded to earlier (p. 21 above) actually occurs:
—O, I never said such a thing!...
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SOURCE: “The Question and the Quest: the Story of Mangan's Sister,” in Reading Dubliners Again: A Lacanian Perspective, Syracuse University Press, 1993, pp. 73–94.
[In the following essay, Leonard utilizes the theories of Jacques Lacan to analyze the depiction of Mangan's sister in “Araby.”]
The displacement of the signifier determines the subjects in their acts, in their destiny, in their refusals, in their blindness, in their end and in their fate.
(Lacan 1988c, 43–44)
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.
(Dubliners; hereafter cited as D 35)
I had read “Araby” several times before I noticed and became curious about the fact that the Araby Bazaar is really the place where Mangan's sister wishes to go. The surprise and confusion of the boy's aunt when he asks if he may go makes it clear that he has not mentioned the event until after his conversation with Mangan's sister. She is the one who introduces “the magical name” that is also the title of the story, but what is her story? If she is not the protagonist of the story, can she be seen as the contagonist whose powerful absence makes the boy's presence in his own narrative...
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SOURCE: “Blind Streets and Seeing Horses: Araby's Dim Glass Revisited,” in Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. 32, No. 3, Summer, 1995, pp. 309–18.
[In the following essay, Norris explores stylistic elements of “Araby,” particularly the narrative voice in the story.]
Joyce's “Araby” not only draws attention to its conspicuous poetic language: it performatively offers the beauty of its art as compensation to the thematized frustrations of the story. The little boy whose heart is broken by a city “hostile to romance,” transmutes his grief into a romance of language. Joyce, whose Dubliners stories tend to bear rhetorical titles, makes of “Araby” a rhetorical bazaar that outstrips in poetic exoticism the extravagant promise of the empty and sterile commercial confection that so disappoints the child. In an early essay on Dubliners, Frank O'Connor writes of “Araby,” “This is using words as they had not been used before in English, except by Pater—not to describe an experience, but so far as possible to duplicate it. Not even perhaps to duplicate it so much as to replace it by a combination of images—a rhetorician's dream, if you like, but Joyce was a student of rhetoric: (20). I construe this gesture of stylistic virtuosity less as an exercise in aestheticism than as a self-critical performance. The story's narrative performance of offering art as balm to heal the...
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SOURCE: “The Quest of Joyce and O'Connor in ‘Araby’ and ‘The Man of the House,’” in Frank O'Connor: New Perspectives, edited by Robert C. Evans and Richard Harp, Locust Hill Press, 1998, 173–87.
[In the following essay, Fuhrel discusses the motif of the quest in Frank O'Connor's “The Man of the House” and Joyce's “Araby” and contrasts the setting, tone, point of view, and themes of the two stories.]
A young man narrates a tale about a time when, as a boy, old enough to leave the house and travel some distance by himself but innocent in matters of the heart, he had created an imaginary world in which he was a hero. Focusing on everyday matters is a continual problem for the boy. Desiring to please an older female, he recalls having traveled in quest of something for this lady. He reaches his destination and meets another woman, but he is sadly disappointed. Nothing turns out as he had imagined; as a result, his views of the world and himself significantly change. Though he fails to bring back anything for the woman, he has taken an important step toward maturity.
A reader familiar with the work of James Joyce immediately recognizes this summary of “Araby,” a story in Dubliners. Yet the motif of the quest, an important, recurring element in world literature, also underlies another important Irish short story, “The Man of the House” by Frank O'Connor,...
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Atherton, J. S. “Araby.” James Joyce's Dubliners: Critical Essays, edited by Clive Hart, pp. 39–47. New York: The Viking Press, 1969.
Discusses the ways in which “Araby” is typical of Joyce's oeuvre.
Brooks, Cleanth and Robert Penn Warren. “Araby.” Understanding Fiction, pp. 414–24. East Norwalk, CT: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1943.
Brooks and Warren explicate the major themes of Joyce's “Araby.”
Collins, Ben L. “‘Araby’ and the ‘Extended Simile.’” Twentieth Century Interpretations of Dubliners: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Peter K. Garrett, pp. 93–9. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968.
Originally published in 1967, finds parallels in “Araby” and Homer's The Odyssey, Dante's Commedia, and the biblical story of the Garden of Eden.
Additional coverage of Joyce's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Concise Dictionary of British Literary Biography, 1914–1945; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 104, 126; DISCovering Authors; DISCovering Authors: British; DISCovering Authors: Canadian; DISCovering Authors Modules: Most-Studied Authors, Novelists, Poets; DISCovering Authors 3.0; Dictionary of Literary...
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