What do the two jars at the end of "Araby" symbolize?

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let us remind ourselves about what is said concerning these two jars that appear towards the end of this excellent short story, when the narrator finally succeeds in his goal of visiting the bazaar. As he looks at a stall, the young lady who is having a conversation with two young gentleman comes over and asks the boy if he wants to buy anything. Note the boy's response:

I looked humbly at the great jars that stood like eastern guards at either side of the dark entrance to the stall and murmured: - No, thank you.

We can see that a simile is used to describe the two jars, which may help us as we consider what they symbolise. They are compared to "eastern guards," that stand watch at the "dark entrance" to the stall. They seem to make the boy feel out of place and to humble him. Looking at this description in the context of the story as a whole, perhaps we can say that these jars therefore represent yet another example of the contrast between the boys hopes and the reality of the bazaar. Having hoped to find a place full of mystical enchantment, he only finds a rather imposing pair of jars that humble him and remind him of who he really is: a young, naive boy lacking in bravery and courage.