What exactly is the epiphany in "Araby"?
James Joyce is famous for creating characters who undergo an epiphany—a sudden moment of insight—and the narrator of "Araby" is one of his best examples At the end of the story, the boy overhears a trite conversation between an English girl working at the bazaar and two young men, and he suddenly realizes that he has been confusing things. It dawns on him that the bazaar, which he thought would be so exotic and exciting, is really only a commercialized place to buy things. Furthermore, he now realizes that Mangan's sister is just a girl who will not care whether he fulfills his promise to buy her something at the bazaar. His conversation with Mangan's sister, during which he promised he would buy her something, was really only small talk—as meaningless as the one between the English girl and her companions. He leaves Araby feeling ashamed and upset. This epiphany signals a change in the narrator—from an innocent, idealistic boy to an adolescent dealing with the harsh realities of life.
In Joycean terms, an epiphany is a moment when the essence of a character is revealed, when allthe forces that bear on his life converge, and we can, in that instant, understand. Araby follows this pattern. The meaning is revealed in a young boy’s psychicjourney from first love to despair and disappointment, and the theme is found in the boy’s discovery of thediscrepancy between the real and the ideal in life.The story opens with a description of North Richmond Street, a blind,cold ... silent street where thehouses It is a street of fixed, decaying conformity andfalse piety. The boy’s house contains the same sense of a dead present and a lost past. The former tenant, apriest, died in the back room of the house, and his legacy — several old yellowed books, which the boy enjoysleafing through because they are old,
Moment of sudden realization of the true meaning of a situation, person or object... Araby focuses on a boy's sudden transition from the illusions of childhood to the insights of maturity. The boy now sees himself clearly and realizes that his romantic feelings for Mangan's sister are a delusion. The chat among the 3 young people reveals to the boy that his feelings for Mangan's sister and all his romantic illusions are nothing but a fib. Up to this point, the boy has regarded the bazaar(and everything having to do with Mangan's sister) as holy and exotic but the reality of the bazaar falls short of the boy's high expectations.
reveals the person characters
One can also look at the epiphany from a religious standpoint. Mangan's sister can be viewed as an angelic or Virgin Mary figure in the story. Think back to the interaction between her and the narrator in the eighth paragraph. Light is falling from above to illuminate her head neck and shoulder in a halo-like fashion. She also attends a catholic school, wears a long, brown dress, and the boy 'prays' to her in his exclamations of "O, Love, O Love" (though my english professor reckons he is actually trying to prevent himself from masturbating which I can kind of see...). One would think Joyce is sending a positive religious message but this happens before the epiphany or change which means his state of mind will be completely altered by the end. Right? So what is his view of religion at the end? "I saw myself a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger." Vanity could signify the boy's relization of the naivety in believing the Church was not corrupt. He was driven by a foolish idea and felt as though the Church had ridiculed him. He also saw himself as a 'creature' which is signifies the devil but could also means he feels seperated from those around him and alienated by the Church. Other religious symbols in the story: The apple tree, the bike pump (which resembles a snake in the grass), the salver, and the free masons.