What is the irony in "Araby"?

The main irony in “Araby” is that the unnamed boy expects to buy Mangan's sister a nice gift at the bazaar but ends up with nothing. This is an example of situational irony, as there is a gap here between what is expected and what actually happens.

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In the short story “Araby” by James Joyce, a young boy is devastated when he is unable to fulfill his heroic quest and buy a gift for the girl with whom he is infatuated.

The unnamed narrator and protagonist is excited at the prospect of heading off...

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In the short story “Araby” by James Joyce, a young boy is devastated when he is unable to fulfill his heroic quest and buy a gift for the girl with whom he is infatuated.

The unnamed narrator and protagonist is excited at the prospect of heading off to the bazaar and buying something nice for the girl he fancies. Seeing himself in the role of a medieval knight, the young lad jumps at the chance to do something heroic and thereby escape the confines of his drab, workaday existence, even if only for a few hours.

Unfortunately, hope turns to crushing disappointment when the boy arrives at the bazaar just as it is closing. Even though one of the vendors is still open and asks him if he wants to buy something, the boy chooses not to. All the romance that had been burning away in his soul has now been doused by cold, hard reality.

This unhappy ending to the story is a prime example of what is called situational irony, which occurs when there is a gap between what was expected to happen and what actually happens. The boy is expecting to buy Mangan's sister a wonderful gift at the exciting bazaar, but what actually happened was that he leaves the dreary bazaar empty-handed, his heart sunk in sadness and disappointment.

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