What is life like in Ireland for “Eveline” and the boy in “Araby”? Think about their class/social position. Think about how the people around them treat them. Think about their frustrations and their dreams and possible futures.

"Eveline" and "Araby" were two very different stories written by Joyce. In "Araby," the narrator speaks of a girl that he admires. He is not sure when or if he will ever have the opportunity to meet her, but he knows that she lives in Araby and is willing to go there for her if he does. The boy then goes on to talk about his family, friends, school and the church. In "Eveline," the story is written in first person as an internal monologue of a young woman who works in a shop in Dublin. She describes how she has been living with her father since her mother died two years ago.

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Both Eveline and the young adolescent narrator of "Araby" come from lower middle class Dublin families. Both have little status within their family units. Both feel frustrated and suffocated by their lives, and both dream of escape to a better, more romantic existence.

Eveline works in a store...

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Both Eveline and the young adolescent narrator of "Araby" come from lower middle class Dublin families. Both have little status within their family units. Both feel frustrated and suffocated by their lives, and both dream of escape to a better, more romantic existence.

Eveline works in a store where she feels undervalued and dissatisfied. Her mother is dead, and she turns over all of her wages to her father, who she lives in fear of. He shows her very little kindness or affection. The boy in "Araby" lives with his aunt and uncle. His uncle is a heavy drinker who pays little attention to the boy and is largely oblivious to his needs. The boy is dissatisfied with school and his dull, drab life in Dublin.

Eveline meets a sailor and makes plans to elope with him to Argentina, but at the last minute, her crippling indoctrination in religion and duty to her family, as well as a highly sentimentalized memory of a rare instance of her father's kindness, paralyzes her so that she turns away from freedom and back to her restrictive Dublin life.

The boy in "Araby" attempts to escape his own drab existence through his crush on Mangan's sister, an adoration colored with religious imagery, and his desire to buy her a gift at the bazaar called Araby. Araby is a longed-for event which he infuses with an aura of mystery and romance. However, when he arrives at Araby, he realizes it is no different from the rest of his Dublin life, and so he feels trapped, frustrated and humiliated at his own illusions.

Both stories show Dublin as a drab, dark, narrow, oppressive place where religion and patriarchal family structures stifle and restrict lives that might otherwise expand and grow. One very much wishes that both of Joyce's protagonists in question could escape their claustrophobic lives and a society that seems to offer them little opportunity for fulfillment.

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Both "Eveline" and "Araby" are included in James Joyce's Dubliners, a work first published in 1914. The stories describe a picture of the turn of the century, after industrialization has set in but before wave of the technological breakthroughs we might take for granted today. Both stories are set amid poverty, focused on themes of disillusionment, as seen from the perspective of characters who hold little agency of their own, at least within the context of their present life in Ireland. One is still a child while the other is a young woman living under the domination of her abusive father.

"Araby" is a story about a young boy's infatuation, as he hopes to impress Mangan's sister by bringing her back a gift from a fair. This is an experience that will end in bitter disappointment for story's protagonist. When reading this story, one might get a sense of disconnection between the protagonist's mental state and the realities of the world around him: while he treats his infatuation in terms almost sacred, he remains the only character that seems aware of those feelings, or to care in the least bit about them. The larger rhythms and interactions of life go on around him, with no one really all that interested in his perspective.

"Eveline," on the other hand, tells a story about total paralysis, from the perspective of a young woman who must make a choice about her future: namely, whether to leave Ireland altogether in the hope of a better life, or to remain where she is: in the comfort of the familiar. Her present life is described as a picture of misery, living under the domination of her drunken, abusive father. In this story, she has an opportunity to escape that dismal life, through marriage to Frank, but she finds, at the story's ending, herself in a state of paralysis, unable to take that step.

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In "Araby," an interesting cultural element is revealed. School students seem to have attended school on Saturday:

On Saturday morning I reminded my uncle that I wished to go to the bazaarI left the house in bad humour and walked slowly towards the school.

Additionally, schoolboys seem to be ignored in shopping districts, if the behavior of the sealesgirl at the bazar may be taken as a generalized illustration:

the young lady came over and asked me did I wish to buy anything. The tone of her voice was not encouraging; she seemed to have spoken to me out of a sense of duty.

This rather contrasts with today when the teenage dollar comprises a large and mighty demographic.

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Many relevant comments on this topic can be found by going to Google Books and searching for "Eveline and Araby."  By searching for the titles of the two stories side-by-side one is likely to find sources that compare and contrast the two works. Here is what I found when I did such a search:

http://www.google.com/search?q=eveline+and+araby&btnG=Search+Books&tbm=bks&tbo=1

I thought it would be interesting what would happen if I searched for "social class in Eveline and Araby."  Here are the search results:

http://www.google.com/search?q=social+class+in+eveline+and+araby&btnG=Search+Books&tbm=bks&tbo=1

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Let us remember that the poverty experienced by Ireland impacted these two characters as well, and both short stories give us revealing descriptions of the drab and enclosed lives that both are trapped in. Whether it is the dead-end street of the boy in "Araby" or the claustraphobia experienced by Eveline, it is clear that both characters lead lives that are profoundly limited in terms of opportunity and escape.

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Oh, ....The short stories "Araby" and "Eveline" are from James Joyce's "stages of man" work, Dubliners. Occupied by the British, the Protestant minority that was the ruling elite, Joyce perceived Dublin as the center of Irish paralysis, the frustrating awareness of the Irish people's powerlessness to do anything about their situations, along with their religious servility.  The characters of "Araby" and "Eveline" both dwell in little brown houses that harbor gloom and despair over which a dominating Catholicism casts its shadows; they are the adolescents of the stages of life in Dubliners, adolescents who dream of what is not real, disillusioned youths and failures. With his eyes burning with "anguish and anger," and her cry of anguish that falls upon the sea, the boy of "Araby" and Eveline, then, fall into the lower-middle-class-desperation of the crowded streets of the city.

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Both the boy and Eveline are outsiders watching regular society pass them by. Both feel abused (or are abused) and frustrated with their social standing. Their social standing prevents them from being able to participate in the life they want for themselves.
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