What is the narrator's point of view in "Araby" by James Joyce?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two components, typically, to describing a story's point of view: whether or not the narrator is a participant in the story's events (using first-person identifiers like I, we, and our), and when the narrator is narrating in relation to the events that take place in the story. If the story is written using a third-person point of view, we identify the fact that the narrator is not a participant in the story's events, as well as how much the speaker knows: does he or she know the thoughts and feelings of just one character or all of them? This particular narrative is told in the first-person, meaning that the speaker is a participant in the action.  

In addition, the narrator uses past-tense verbs and employs words much more typical of an adult's speech than a child's, and these are our biggest clues that the narrator is now an adult who is reflecting back on an episode from his childhood. This means that the point of view is first-person objective. "Objective" refers to the fact that the narrator is not narrating events as they are happening in his present, but that he is narrating events after they have occurred. If he were narrating events as they occur, in the present, then the point of view would be first-person subjective.

laurniko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator of "Araby" is written with a first-person perspective. 

The boy in "Araby" is a singular, first-person narrator. He tells the story from only his perspective, rather than including the perspective of a group.

He's also a limited narrator. A reader is unable to know the thoughts and feelings of others from his perspective. Readers have to rely on the narrator's beliefs and opinions rather than receiving corroborating evidence from outside sources. 

Most first-person limited narrators are, to some extent, unreliable. Since they're telling the story as they see it, there's no way for a reader to know whether the narrator's perspective is accurate. This style of narration also limits what the reader can see. Nothing can happen that the narrator does not witness or hear about -- which limits the stories and perspectives of side characters. 

For example, the narrator in "Araby" develops a crush on Mangan's sister -- and she's never actually given a name. If the narration was omniscient rather than limited, the narrator would know her name without having to receive it. Since he never does, both he and the reader are forced to identify the object of his affections as only Mangan's sister.

amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Araby" is one of a collection of 15 stories from James Joyce's collection Dubliners. This is the third of three stories told from the point of view of a young boy on the verge of adolescence. The style of narration is called first person point of view or first person narrative. Because this story is about the boy's confused feelings and emerging curiosities of adolescence, the first person point of view allows the reader to see how the young boy (narrator) thinks and feels. 

Since this is a first person narration, the reader is privy to the narrator's epiphany at the end of the story. If this had been third person narration, the narrator would have had to physically describe the boy's reactions and only a third person omniscient narrator would be privy to his thoughts. With first person narration, the boy's thoughts communicate the harsh epiphany directly to the reader.