As a Modernist, James Joyce has written stories in which the characters are spiritually and psychologically floundering; "Araby" is such a story. Its narrative relates the adolescent infatuation of a young man, the narrator, and the object of this infatuation, the sister of his friend, Mangan. Mangan's sister, whose name is "like a summons to all my foolish blood," the narrator remarks, represents the romantic and spiritual confusion and illusion of this adolescent.
In his infatuation, the narrator watches her "shadow peer up and down the street"; he lies on the floor of his parlor and watches for her to come out her door. Her image, much like the Virgin Mary, is with him when he goes to market with his aunt, and he images that he carries the holy grail rather than a box of groceries. Romantically, he describes his eyes as tearful, his heart floods with emotion, his body is
like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.
In short, Mangan's sister represents an idealization that offers escape from his brown existence on North Richmond Street. In fact, he attaches an exotic nature to his infatuation as he invites Megan's sister to the bazaar. However, like his other illusions, the bazaar is but a petty place where the peddlers engage in idle gossip. It is then that the narrator realizes his illusions and that he has been "derided by vanity" as his eyes burn with "anguish and anger."