Is "Araby" by James Joyce comical or serious?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Whilst I do think there are elements of this story that are humorous and perhaps comical, such as the obvious Romantic notions of the male narrator about Mangan's sister and his imagination that obviously runs riot, depicting himself as the knight in shining armour gaining a token for the favour of his beloved, the overall message and theme of this short story can only be described as serious. Note how the narrator at the end of this tale experiences an "epiphany" when he recognises how silly he has been and how he has been fooled by his romantic notions:

Gazing up in to the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

The story ends with the lights in the bazaar being turned off, symbolically representing perhaps the end of the narrator's youth and romantic notions, as he emerges with a far more realistic idea of life and also of himself. Serious themes indeed.