Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Araby" is studied as a short story most often because of the gripping epiphany that closes this tale. An epiphany can be defined as a moment of sudden revelation and insight that gives the character self-knowledge or awareness of who they are and their place in the world.

Based on this definition, therefore, "Araby" ends with an epiphany of the narrator where his abortive trip to the bazaar, tinged with magic, mysticism and a romantic quest to buy something for his "love", Mangan's sister, ends in the cold, harsh reality of his self-realisation:

Gazing up into the darkness, I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

What is "lost" therefore, is an innocence, a romantic suscpetibility on the part of the narrator, in this moment. He is forced to confront his childish notions and to realise that he is not an errant knight engaged on a quest to secure an item as a token of love for his lady - actually, he is a boy who is completely infatuated with a girl who he hardly knows (it is significant that we never even find out her name) and who realises that his hopes were unrealistic and that he is naive and useless.