Enumerate the activities taking place at Araby. To what extent do they sustain its "magical name"?

Expert Answers

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

At least in the eyes of the boy, they most certainly do not live up to the magic of its name.  By the time he arrives, almost all the stalls are closed up and the shop keepers are idly chatting about this and that.  His interaction with the one shop...

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

At least in the eyes of the boy, they most certainly do not live up to the magic of its name.  By the time he arrives, almost all the stalls are closed up and the shop keepers are idly chatting about this and that.  His interaction with the one shop keeper leaves him thus:

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 fact that the place had lost all its magic completely ruins it for the boy.

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

The bazaar itself in Joyce's "Araby," doesn't fulfill its magical name.  The image of the bazaar that Mangan's sister and the narrator have is an illusion.  That's the point of the bazaar in the story.

By the time the boy arrives, it's half-closed, the conversation by the workers that he overhears is silly and coarse and trivial, and the objects for sale are not worth buying. 

The boy realizes the bazaar is just a low-rent place to buy worthless trinkets sponsored by the church for the purpose of making money for the church.  It is the destruction of this illusion, that leads the boy to his realization, or epiphany, that destroys his other illusions:  that Mangan's sister is somehow akin to the Virgin Mary, that he is a holy warrior, and that they have some kind of special relationship. 

He realizes how foolish and silly he's been.  The blindness, figuratively, is lifted from his eyes.   

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

There is a deliberate contrast in the text between the expectation of the boy as he reaches the bazaar which bears the "magical name" of Araby and then the actual mundane and rather humdrum reality of what goes on inside. He sees two men counting money and some English people engaging in everyday gossip. The hall itself, far from being the site of eastern promise and magical mystery, is described in a very serious way:

Nearly all the stalls were closed and the greater part of the hall was in darkness. I recognised a silence like that which pervades a church after a service. I walked into the centre of the bazaar timidly.

The comparison of the bazaar to a church gives the bazaar a serious, sombre and ceremonious feel that makes the boy nervous and shy, as indicated in the timid way in which he walks to the centre of the bazaar. In addition, note the way that the "greater part of the hall was in darkness." This too is important in the way that the reality of the bazaar is presented as being such a contrast from the fevered expectations of the boy whose romantic ideals and imagination have got the better of him. The description of what happens inside the bazaar belies the boy's expectations and the sense of anticipation and excitement he feels when he hears the word "Araby," which he says casts "an Eastern enchantment over me." The end of the story makes it clear that his understanding of the reality of Araby coincides with his realisation that his romantic hopes are not real.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on