In James Joyce's "Araby," why are some characters unnamed?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would argue that Mangan's sister is unnamed because she represents an ideal object of the boy's love, and as such, is unattainable. His love for her is just a pipe dream, a boyish fantasy which never had the remotest chance of becoming real. She sends him off on a fool's errand to the bazaar, which itself perfectly epitomizes the unreal world the boy has been inhabiting. If Mangan's sister were given a name, then that would give his amorous feelings a specific object, something tangible and real. But his boyish infatuation has no object as such. Instead it is caught up in a general desire to escape from the restrictions and frustrations of a life that is impoverished, both materially and emotionally. The lack of a name or any specific object for these turbulent emotions, means that they have nowhere to go, and so the frustration continues.

The characters, most notably the narrator and Mangan's sister, are unnamed in order to emphasize the universality of the narrator's experience. He...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 640 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team