How would you characterize the level of diction in "Araby" by James Joyce? Is this level appropriate for a story about a young boy's experiences? 

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The level of diction used by the narrator in this story can be described as "standard": certainly, it is higher than the "colloquial" or even "conversational," but it is not as high as "elevated." He uses words like "uninhabited" instead of empty, "imperturbable" instead of calm , "gauntlet" instead...

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The level of diction used by the narrator in this story can be described as "standard": certainly, it is higher than the "colloquial" or even "conversational," but it is not as high as "elevated." He uses words like "uninhabited" instead of empty, "imperturbable" instead of calm, "gauntlet" instead of streets, "litanies" instead of chants, "sodden" instead of wet, etc. This does make sense because the narrative perspective is first-person objective. This means that the narrator was a participant in the events that take place in the story—he uses the first-person pronoun "I"—and that he narrates these events after they have taken place (instead of while they take place). You can tell because he uses past tense verbs like was, detached, gazed, and so on. Moreover, the narrator essentially describes the epiphany that he had as a young boy:

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

He realizes that he expected the world to care about his feelings for Mangan's sister; he hoped that his uncle would arrive home sooner and remember to give him money, that the train would move faster, that the entrance fee to Araby would be cheaper, that the bazaar would be more exotic, and that he could find a perfect something to give to her to express his emotion. However, he comes to recognize that he was vain (or had expectations of self-importance) to believe that his little feelings would matter to the world, that anything would go his way just because of how he felt for Mangan's sister. He experiences something akin to a loss of innocence, and this is likely something he could not have verbalized at the time. The narrator must explain what happened, now that he is older and has the language to express the loss of one's innocence.

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James Joyce's story "Araby" is told with a very high level of diction. Joyce not only chooses words from a rich vocabulary, but he is often poetic and abstract. For example:

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

These noises converged in a single sensation of life for me: I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes.

This might be considered inappropriate diction for a story about a young boy in love; but it must be understood that the narrator is an older man looking back to the days of his youth. The narrator is expressing feelings the boy experienced but would not have been able to express to himself or to anyone else. This is in fact what is so remarkable about the story. We readers understand that the viewpoint character is capable of having deep feelings and capable of subtle observations of the world around him without comprehending them at the time. The mature and sophisticated narrator of the story is able to put these feelings and observations into words because he is so much older and wiser. So, the elevated diction is very appropriate for the way James Joyce chooses to tell this story. If he wanted to appear to be in the immediate present rather than in the remote past, he could have kept only the bare bones of his story; but it would seem like an inconsequential, humorous piece about "puppy love." Everything of importance in "Araby" comes from what the mature narrator puts into the telling.

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