Considering "Araby," why is the title of the story a good one?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Authors choose their short story titles very carefully. Sometimes a title reflects a particular irony or theme developed in the story. Sometimes a title suggests the development of symbolism. The title "Araby" accomplishes all three.

For the young narrator, trapped in the mundane, drab life of North Richmond Street, the bazaar (Araby) represents all that he years for--mystery, adventure, and a kind of exotic beauty. The boy reads Walter Scott romances and loses himself in dreams. When he falls hopelessly in love with Mangan's sister, his desire for her and his dreams of Araby become one obsession: to win her love by bringing her a treasure from the bazaar.

In the story, of course, Araby turns out to be an ugly warehouse filled with cheap goods and common people. There is no treasure to win his love. Standing in the tacky bazaar, his dream and his dream world slip away, and he realizes the truth of his life. Innocence is lost, and the boy leaves Araby feeling both anger and anguish.

In the one word, "Araby," James Joyce captures the symbolism of the boy's dreams and the irony of his heart breaking discovery. The theme, the bitter loss of innocence, is also suggested in the title.