Araby Analysis

Style and Technique (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Told from the first-person point of view, the story is a convincing representation of the voice of an observant, impressionable, naïve young boy. At the same time, through the deft use of language, symbol, and allusion, a world of feeling beyond the boy’s experience is conveyed to the attentive reader.

First, the story is firmly rooted in time and place: The Joyce family lived on North Richmond Street in 1894, and the young James (then twelve years old) attended the actual Araby bazaar held between May 14 and 18 of that year. All the historical, geographical, and cultural references in the story are true to life.

Second, the language is carefully designed so as to convey a complex, yet highly controlled range of meanings. Consider, for example, the use of the words “blind,” and “set . . . free” in the first sentence, the various uses of “stall” in the body of the story, and “driven” and “eyes” in the last sentence. These motifs support the chivalric and religious themes in the story and subtly link them to its emotional core.

Third, the story is rich with the symbolism of romance, Roman Catholicism, and the Orientalism popular at the end of the last century. The various allusions—to Sir Walter Scott, James Clarence Mangan, Caroline Norton’s poem The Arab’s Farewell to His Steed, the Freemasons, Mrs. Mercer—can enlarge the relevance and appeal of the boy’s private adventure for the attentive reader.

Finally, the story reaches its climax with what Joyce calls an “epiphany”: a term borrowed from theology and applied to a moment of unexpected revelation or psychological insight. Such moments are not conventionally dramatic, nor are they explained to the reader. Here the epiphany occurs in the boy’s consciousness when he overhears the petty and incomplete conversation at the bazaar. He believes himself to have been self-deluded: He has placed too much faith in Mangan’s sister and the values she represents. His early religious training and ignorance of human relations have caused him to adore a mere petticoat.

Araby Setting

"Araby" is set in North Richmond Street, Dublin, at the turn of the twentieth century. Joyce describes it as "a quiet street," with an...

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Araby Literary Style

Through the use of a first person narrative, Joyce communicates the confused thoughts and dreams of his young male protagonist. Joyce uses...

(The entire section is 489 words.)

Araby Literary Qualities

Through the use of a first-person narrative, Joyce communicates the confused thoughts and dreams of his young male protagonist. Joyce uses...

(The entire section is 472 words.)

Araby Social Sensitivity

While Dublin has seen change since the turn of the twentieth century when Joyce wrote "Araby," many of the conditions present then remain...

(The entire section is 534 words.)

Araby Compare and Contrast

1906: The Abbey Theatre forms in Dublin as part of a push by notable literary figures such as W. B. Yeats to influence a cultural...

(The entire section is 157 words.)

Araby Topics for Discussion

1. Identify and discuss the numerous religious symbols in the story.

2. The narrator of "Araby" moves from innocence to...

(The entire section is 164 words.)

Araby Ideas for Reports and Papers

1. A recurring theme in many of the stories in Dubliners is a longing for escape expressed through fantasies of flight to some place...

(The entire section is 210 words.)

Araby Topics for Further Study

Joyce once said that in Dubliners he intended "to write a chapter of the moral history of" Ireland, because Dublin seemed to him to be...

(The entire section is 150 words.)

Araby Related Titles / Adaptations

The Dead, a film based on one of the stories in Dubliners, was directed by John Huston (starring his daughter, Anjelica) and...

(The entire section is 86 words.)

Araby Media Adaptations

The Dead, a film based on one of the stories in Dubliners, was directed by John Huston (starring his daughter, Anjelica) and...

(The entire section is 27 words.)

Araby What Do I Read Next?

Dubliners is the complete collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce, all loosely connected as each one describes people living in...

(The entire section is 266 words.)

Araby For Further Reference

Benstock, Bernard. Essay on Joyce in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 36. Edited by Thomas F. Staley. Detroit: Gale, 1985. Broad...

(The entire section is 222 words.)

Araby Bibliography and Further Reading

Sources
Scholes, Robert and A. Walton Litz, editors. Dubliners Text, Criticism, and Notes, Penguin, 1996.

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(The entire section is 120 words.)