With an exposition that emphasizes the blindness of the street on which the boy lives and the "brown imperturbable faces" of the houses on this street, as well as the "dark muddy lanes" behind the houses where the boys play, Joyce introduces the motif of lack of perception that the narrator possesses about the object of his affections, Mangan's sister, and the bazaar. Throughout the story, the narrator is blind to reality and trivial like the bazaar in his delusions. He is a victim of self-deception and his desire to be accepted by the girl. It is only at the end of Joyce's narrative that the boy experiences a moment of enlightenment, an epiphany, as he realizes that he has been in darkness about the reality of the bazaar and Mangan's sister's feelings toward him:
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.
The narrator realizes that his conversation with Mangan's sister about buying her something at the bazaar has been little more than small talk, no more than the conversation of the shop-girls at the bazaar. His imaginings that he has carried his love as one would the holy grail and his journey to an exotic place for this love are nothing but delusions that he only realizes as the bazaar closes.