In Araby by James Joyce, what obstacles prevent the narrator from achieving his goal?What epiphany has the narrator experienced by the end of the story?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the short story 'Araby' from the Dubliners collection by James Joyce, the author shows us a young lad nearly driven crazy by his frustration in trying to get to a church bazaar/exhibition before it closes for the night. he wants to get a present there for a girl he is sweet on. The first obstacle is his studies and getting finished in time. Then there is the money to buy the gift. But these are trivial obstacles in comparison to the worst one of all - the waiting,waiting, waiting for his uncle to come home so he can leave to catch the train. He grows more and more distressed and irritated, watching the clock and feeling anxious that he will miss the train or the event itself.He realises that the shallow event wasn't worth the effort.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Numerous obstacles prevent the narrator from achieving his goal in Joyce's "Araby."  He is obsessed with Mangan's sister, and after she dreamily tells him about Araby, he becomes obsessed with buying her a souvenir from the traveling exhibit.  He can't think of anything else, and neglects even his studies, which apparently had previously been important to him. 

Physical barriers get in the way.  His uncle comes home late from work then delays giving the boy money to go.  By the time he reaches Araby, almost everything is closed.  When he looks in the only remaining open place, he chooses not to buy. 

A psychological barrier also impedes the narrator.  When he hears the conversation of the workers at Araby, he is struck by the triviality of it. 

In the conclusion of the story, the narrator experiences his epiphany:

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

The story begins with a description of the dead-end, blind street the narrator lives on.  It ends with the narrator's eyes being open.  He realizes how shallow and trivial he has been, how silly.

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