How does love affect its victims in the short story "Araby" by James Joyce?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

James Joyce's short story "Araby" is, among other things, a tale of a young boy who harbors a secret crush on one of the girls who lives in his neighborhood. Known only as "Mangan's sister" in the story, she nonetheless proves to be completely captivating for the narrator. Indeed, the narrator's "love" for Mangan's sister quickly becomes an idealized obsession, causing the narrator to become blind to reality.

Reality comes crashing down once the narrator travels to the bazaar in an attempt to buy Mangan's sister a gift and prove his love. Arriving to the market just before closing time, the narrator realizes his obsession for Mangan's sister is foolish and out of touch with reality. As he comes into contact with the adult world, the narrator finally understands his obsessive crush is a symptom of a foolishly idealistic nature.

All in all, it can be said that love in Joyce's "Araby" makes the narrator blind to reality, as he becomes lost in an idealistic fantasy that doesn't actually exist. When considering this point, the fact that Mangan's sister is never directly named becomes significant. Rather than thinking about Mangan's sister as a real person with a name, the narrator regards her as a mere object of affection, and this fact alone shows the narrator's love is not quite grounded in reality.