Describe the character of the protagonist in James Joyce's "Araby." How does the protagonist feel towards Mangan's sister?

Expert Answers

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

The unnamed boy is young, innocent, naive. His deeply unhappy home life causes him to fantasize about an exotic, more exciting world in which all his deepest, most heartfelt dreams come true. The bazaar is that world—or at least it appears to be.

Sadly for the boy, Araby turns out...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The unnamed boy is young, innocent, naive. His deeply unhappy home life causes him to fantasize about an exotic, more exciting world in which all his deepest, most heartfelt dreams come true. The bazaar is that world—or at least it appears to be.

Sadly for the boy, Araby turns out to be every bit as much of a disappointment as his ordinary everyday life, with its seemingly endless disappointments. All he wanted to do was buy Mangan's sister a gift, something special that would show how deeply he feels towards her. But he's unable to do even that.

The darkness that descends upon the bazaar represents the end of his dreams, the onset of a profound disillusionment with a harsh adult world. For the boy, this is the end of innocence. Araby, like his infatuation for Mangan's sister, was all just an illusion.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The nameless protagonist of James Joyce's "Araby" is an innocent, idealistic boy who is also something of a romantic. He's obsessed with the books in the library in his house, one of which is a historical romance. It's hardly surprising that the narrator idealizes Mangan's sister and views his crush on her as the perfect romance. Indeed, once the narrator promises to bring Mangan's sister back something from the bazaar, Araby, he becomes increasingly obsessed with the notion of winning her love and begins to neglect all other aspects of his daily routine.

Given his extreme obsession for Mangan's sister, the narrator's epiphany at the end of the story is especially crushing. Realizing that he has been controlled by idealistic, childish impulses, the narrator seems to set aside his ambitions to impress Mangan's sister and prepares instead to join the ranks of disillusioned adults. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team