Araby Questions and Answers
by James Joyce

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How is the boy in James Joyce's short story "Araby" characterized?

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The boy in James Joyce’s short story “Araby” is characterized in a number of different ways, including the following:

  • He grows up in relatively poor and unpromising circumstances, but he does not seem especially bitter, angry, or self-pitying about those circumstances themselves. Whatever harsh judgments he makes are judgments he usually directs at himself.
  • He seems as imaginative as an adult as he was as a boy, as when he uses personification to describe how the

other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces.

  • He seems unconventional, as when he notes that he liked a particular book because its pages were yellow.  Another kind of boy might have had entirely different, and entirely predictable, kinds of reasons for liking a particular book.
  • He seems capable of appreciating ethical behavior, as in his praise of the “very charitable priest.”
  • He is observant, as when he notes that

The space of sky above us was the...

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