In Joyce's story, what is "Araby" and who takes the boy there?

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The first words addressed to the narrator of this story by Mangan's sister, the object of his distant affections, are a query as to whether he is "going to Araby ." Araby, she explains "would be a splendid bazaar," to which she would love to go. A bazaar in the...

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The first words addressed to the narrator of this story by Mangan's sister, the object of his distant affections, are a query as to whether he is "going to Araby." Araby, she explains "would be a splendid bazaar," to which she would love to go. A bazaar in the context of Ireland is a sort of street market or jumble-sale, usually comprised of stalls set up in a town square or in the street and selling a variety of miscellaneous items. A bazaar would not be a permanent fixture. The fact that this one is called "Araby" probably makes it appear particularly exotic to the characters in the story.

The boy promises that if he does go to the bazaar, "I will bring you something," and he asks permission of his aunt to go on Saturday night. It is suggested that his uncle agrees to take him, but when the boy reminds his uncle about the bazaar on Saturday night, "he had forgotten." The uncle gives him a florin and allows the boy to go alone. Because he is unfamiliar with the bazaar and unaccompanied, he searches in vain for "a sixpenny entrance" and in the end enters through a turnstile, for which he pays a shilling. By this point, however, "nearly all the stores were closed."

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"Araby," the title and a word that stands for the exotic, is a bazaar to which Magan's sister, of whom the narrator is enamored, wants to go.  However, because she is going to a religious retreat at a convent, the narrator promises to bring her a present from this bazaar. From then on, he cannot think of anything else in his infatuation for this girl; "the syllables of the word Araby" haunt him.

Unfortunately, on the night on which the boy is to go to the bazaar, the uncle, who has been drinking, returns home late.  Carelessly, he gives the boy a coin and asks him if he is familiar with the poem "An Arab's Farewell to his Steed" of which the name "Araby" reminds him.  The sad irony is not lost upon the reader who witnesses the heartache of the boy who arrives  by train too late to buy anything.  Bitter tears fill his eyes in his Joycian epiphany of realizing how foolish his dreams of the girl whom he has idealized as almost a "holy grail" have been.

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