Biblical Allusions In Araby

What are the allusions used in "Araby"?

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Much of the conflict in James Joyce's story of a young boy's love is derived from his confusion of love with religious fervor.  In addition, the exotic excitement generated by his anticipation of the forthcoming bazaar affects his perception of his infatuation with Mangan's sister.  Indeed, the many allusions in Joyce's narrative serve to develop and strengthen his themes. 

Allusions in "Araby"

  • Religious allusions to the Catholic Church are frequent as Joyce felt the Roman Catholic religion had a stultifying effect upon the Irish.
  1. Christian Brothers' School
  2. The Devout Communicant, a work of Catholic devotional literature by English Franciscan, Pacificus Baker.
  3. "my chalice," the cup used in the Eucharist of the Catholic Mass. This chalice also alludes to the Holy Grail, the cup used at the Last Supper. 
  4. "two men were counting money on a salver" is a reference to Matthew 21:12-13.
  • Irish cultural allusions thread throughout "Araby."
  1. The houses with "brown imperturbable faces" alludes to another work of Joyce's:  In Stephen Hero, Joyce refers to "one of those brown brick houses which seem the very incarnation or Irish paralysis"; thus, his allusion suggests the motif of paralysis.
  2. Mangan's sister's name is, perhaps, an intended allusion to the nineteenth century Irish romantic poet of doomed love and agonized despair James Clarence Mangan.
  3. "O'Donovan Rossa" is an allusion to Jeremiah O'Donovan, a Fenian (ERA) revolutionary and member of Parliament elect in 1869 when serving a life sentence for treason-felony against the British government.
  4. "some Freemason affair" alludes to a function by the Society of Freemasons, an organization repudiated by Catholics because it has been suspected by Catholics of atheism, anti-Catholicism, and Protestant bigotry.
  5. "The Arab's Farewell to his Steed" is a poem by the irish poet Caroline Norton.
  • Other allusions 
  1. Araby The poetic name for Arabia:  The Orient was a place of European romance and fantasy in the nineteenth century as it was a place where the exotic, the sensual and refined cruelty were involved. In addition, Thomas Moore's ballad, "Farewell-farewell to thee, Araby's daughter" is also suggested.
  2. The Memoirs of Vidocq is a very popular account of the exploits of a criminal who turned detective.



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