In "Araby," what does the narrator's neighborhood symbolize?

Expert Answers
Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator lives on North Richmond Street, a drab Dublin street with a vacant two-story house standing somewhat isolated at its dead end. The other houses, in one of which the narrator lives, "gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces." The street is almost always quiet and lifeless. The neighborhood consists of "dark muddy lanes," and "dark dripping gardens where odors arose from the ashpits." Also present are "dark odorous stables." At night, the narrator's street is a place of dim light and shadows.

This neighborhood symbolizes the poverty and dreariness of the narrator's life. He lives literally and figuratively on a dead-end street. The description also symbolizes the feelings of the narrator and others in the story. All try to escape the shabbiness and sense of hopelessness that pervades life on North Richmond. The narrator loses himself in romantic dreams of Araby. His uncle drinks. Mangan's sister goes on religious retreats. Life on North Richmond is not easily endured by those who lives there.

lovingdiv123 | Student

dead presend and a lost past 
it is a street of fixed decaying conformity and false piety
the several books found become a symbol of the intellectual and religious valitiy of the past