Place and story are closely integrated in "Araby." The alleyway, the busy commercial street, the open door of Mangan’s house, the room in back where the priest died, the way to school—all are parts of the locations that shape the life and consciousness of the narrator. Before the narrator goes to Araby, it is his thoughts about this exotic, mysterious location that crystallize for him his adoration of Mangan’s sister, who is somehow locked into an "Eastern enchantment" (paragraph 12) of devotion and unfulfilled love. At the story’s end the lights are out, the place is closing down, and the narrator recognizes Araby as a symbol of his own lack of reality and unreachable hopes. Seemingly, all his aims are dashed by his adolescent lack of power and by the drunken and passive-aggressive uncle.
The boy’s biblical and holy descriptions of the setting and Magan’s sister enhance his sacred adoration toward her which ultimately leads him through maturation from a boy to a man. To the boy, the girl is saintly and angelic; she is always surrounded by “light”, as if by a halo. She becomes an object of faith to the boy and when she finally talks to him the light “[catches] the white curve of her neck, [lights] her hair… [and] the hand”. When she tells him how she wishes to go to the Araby, he promises he will “bring something back”. He imagines himself as a knight in search of the Holy Grail and his trip to the Araby is to him a holy crusade. The bazaar is filled with “darkness” and “silence” which he describes as an enchanted “church after a service”. Yet, as the Holy Grail was never found, the boy realizes at the bazaar that his love is not to be found. Through such realization, the boy takes his first step to adulthood.