In "Araby," what doesn't the narrator buy for Mangan's sister? 

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator made the decision to buy something at the bazaar, "Araby," for Mangan's sister. The narrator has a crush on Mangan's sister; he essentially becomes obsessed with her, thinking about her at all moments. When he was not near her, he imagined himself like a knight carrying out a mission for his princess. So, when he tells her that he will bring her something from the bazaar, it becomes his mission. Since "Araby" has connotations of the East/Middle East, the narrator has an even more heightened sense that he's going to some exotic land to retrieve a prize for Mangan's sister. 

The syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me. 

It is likely that he intended to buy something exotic looking, something out of the ordinary. He looks at porcelain vases, tea sets, and jars that "stood like eastern guards at either side of the dark entrance." The narrator becomes disheartened and loses interest. It is unclear what he intended to buy and it is unclear if he even found anything that he liked because he becomes disillusioned with the entire experience. 

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The young narrator, who lives a dull life in Dublin, dreams of the bazaar called Araby. The bazaar conflates or merges in his imagination with Mangan's sister, on whom he has a crush. Both represent to him a better, more colorful, and more enchanted world than the one he lives in day to day.

Though he dreams of getting to the bazaar and buying Mangan's sister a gift, he arrives there very late, when it is near to closing. He doesn't have much money to begin with and has to spend almost two-thirds of it, a shilling, on the entrance fee. Once inside, he sees that most of the booths are already closed:

The greater part of the hall was in darkness. I recognized a silence like that which pervades a church after a service.

When he goes to one of the few booths that are still open, the young woman working there treats him with indifference. There isn't much to buy, the boy doesn't have much money to buy anything with to begin with, and he becomes deeply disappointed that what he dreamed about has turned out to be so dismal. Therefore, he loses all heart to buy a gift for Mangan's sister. The world seems hopeless to him at that moment.