Can anybody describe the theme 'fragmented existence' surfacing in "Araby"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"Araby" presents us with a young man who is driven to act on dreams that he is mostly unwilling to admit. He spends time in shadows, looking out a world that does not or cannot see him lurking there. His feelings, fluid and potent, are kept in the shadows while his life, for the most part, is lived elsewhere.

The divide between the boy's emotional world and his "real life" can be construed as evidence of a fragmented existence.

His romantic feelings for Mangan's sister anchor his daily routines, while also flustering him in ways that are both uncontrollable and mysterious. These feelings drive him to watch for Mangan's sister in the window. They lead him to go to the bazaar. This furtive behavior is undertaken in solitude. 

The boy's feelings for Mangan's sister are generally isolating. The boy's secrecy and his fervor push him into a world of his own.

He isolates himself from his friends, who seem terribly young to him once his crush begins, and from his family, who seem caught up in their own world.

Not only are the boy's feelings evidence of a division within his own life, but they serve also to divide the boy from others in his social world.

Additionally, the reading material that the priest left behind in the house demonstrates another fragmentation of worlds: "These three books are not what a person would expect a Catholic priest to have in his library." An individual's life, it would seem, takes two parts, private and public.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial