What is the main focus of the story "Araby"?James Joyce's "Araby"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main focus of James Joyce's short story "Araby" is upon the narrator/character whose deluded infatuation leads him to glorify his perception of Mangan's sister, and, in so doing, become disillusioned.

When the narrator initially see Mangan's sister, he envisions her as having an aura behind her, like a madonna, she has "her figure defined by the light from the half-opened door."  Later, he further romanticizes himself as an Arthurian knight and confuses this image with relgious fervor, 

...I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes.  Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand.  My eyes were often full of tears....

Then, when he speaks to her, Mangan's sister asks the narrator if she is going to Araby, a bazaar that he considers exotic.  However, this, too, is an illusion; and, when the narrator arrives at the bazaar as it closes and Mangan's sister is not there, he realizes his adolescent folly,

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity.

As he stands in the dark hall, the narrator has what Joyce terms an epiphany and his eyes burn with his shame and anger at himself for being so romantically deluded and foolish in his infatuation.