"Araby" takes place in Dublin, Ireland, around 1905, when the story was written. It is the third story in James Joyce's collection of short stories entitled The Dubliners. This collection of stories is Joyce's portrayal of the problems that face the Irish people around the turn of the century. "Araby" is one of the most well known stories from this collection.
The story begins with a description of North Richmond Street, which is portrayed as quiet and "blind." "Blind" is particularly well chosen because it means both a dead end as well as without vision. The narrator's house on North Richmond Street is "musty" and "enclosed." But the narrator, in his youth, is oblivious to the staleness that pervades his surroundings. His attention is focused on Mangan's sister whose image allows him to escape the dreariness of his surroundings.
Within this general setting of Dublin, Joyce depicts such specific settings as the narrator's house, the neighborhood streets and yards, Mangan sister's house, the market place, the train station, and finally Araby, the bazaar--the narrator's destination, the destination that allows the narrator to see himself for what he is: "A creature driven and derided by vanity."