"The theme in 'Araby' is a search for ideal beauty". Discuss.

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If the central idea of Joyce's "Araby" is about the search for ideal beauty, the search fails. 

The male narrator is an adolescent who is infatuated with a friend's older sister.  His infatuation becomes an obsession.  He longs to somehow connect with her, and once he does he struggles while waiting for the day to come when he can travel to the bazaar (Araby) to buy her a gift.  He is disenchanted, however, by the appearance of the bazaar, the trivial flirtation he overhears among three workers, and, apparently, the items available for purchase.

He experiences an epiphany or awakening and realizes how trivial he has been in being so obsessed with the girl.     

While the story is certainly about the difference between illusion and reality, and the failure of reality to live up to the illusion, it might be a stretch to see it as about the search for ideal beauty.  The narrator is only an early adolescent.  His behavior is actually quite normal for his age, but, a little trivial in the big picture of life. 

If it is about searching for ideal beauty, that theme is seen in the boy's infatuation and the illusion it creates.  But again, that might be a bit of a stretch, and whatever the boy is searching for, the search is a failure.