Based on the quote below, what change has the protagonist of "Araby" by James Joyce undergone?"Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a...

Based on the quote below, what change has the protagonist of "Araby" by James Joyce undergone?

"Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger."   

Expert Answers
iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quote you reference is the final sentence in James Joyce's "Araby," and it is arguably the most important sentence in the whole story, as it illustrates the protagonist's disillusionment with both his childhood crush and the idealistic world of childhood in general.

Throughout the short story, Joyce's nameless narrator obsesses over one of the girls who lives on his street, another nameless character known only as Mangan's sister. The narrator's crush quickly grows to idealistic proportions, and so, when he goes to Araby to buy the girl a present, he does so in the pompous belief that he's proving his love just like a dashing knight in shining armor. Indeed, the importance the narrator places on his "love" quickly proves itself to be blown out of proportion.

The narrator realizes this fact when he arrives at the bazaar and finds it to be far less exotic than he'd imagined. As a matter of fact, Araby proves to be a rather dreary place populated by disinterested adults. The quote you've listed here refers to the narrator's disillusionment with the bazaar and, by extension, his disillusionment with his childhood crush and fantasies. Thus, the quote shows that the narrator has changed by rejecting his childhood idealism and moving toward the more realistic (and perhaps more cynical) world of adults. 

rlantz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The referenced quote is a signature James Joyce mechanism used to show the revealing loss of innocence his protagonist endures. The young boy, who is on the cusp of his adolescent years, begins a quest to “prove his love” to an older girl. The adolescent girl expresses a desire to visit a local bazaar called Araby. However, due to a prior commitment, she cannot go. The young man promises to pick her up a gift from Araby market, and he begins his quest to fulfill his promise to the young lady.

The boy has a romanticized idea of what love is; moreover, it is his own self-importance that crashes down around him. He arrives at the fair as it begins to close, and the bazaar is not as he had envisioned it. It is rather gloomy and uninspiring.

An older girl tending a stall interrupts her flirtatious conversation with two young men to ask the protagonist if he would like to purchase anything. It is as if the veil has been lifted from his eyes, and the young man realizes his small, unimportant place in the world. The referenced quote is a testament to his realization of this new reality.