Araby Questions and Answers
by James Joyce

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In "Araby," how would you describe the relationship between the narrator and Mangan's sister?

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One of the key facts you need to realise about the relationship between the narrator and Mangan's sister is that it is almost non-existent. Remember that we never know her name, she is only referred to as Mangan's sister, and it is clear that she is the site of fantasy and illusion for our youthful narrator. One way that this is indicated is the way that she is always presented as being almost angelic. Consider the way that she is always seen with a light behind her that gives her an almost angelic nimbus:

She was waiting for us, her figure defined by the light from the half-opened door....

The light from the lamp opposite our door caught the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested their and, falling, lit up the hand upon the railing. It fell over one side of her dress and caught the white border of a petticoat...

Mangan's sister is a character who the narrator never really knows, and she is described in ways that objectify her as the repository of all of the narrator's fevered adolescent dreams of love and romance rather than being allowed to be presented to us as a fully developed character. This is of course that the narrator finally comes to realise at the end of the story as he is forced to concede that all of his hopes and dreams are actually just as insubstantial as the character of Mangan's sister is described in this story. 

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