What are the rising action, climax, and resolution in "Araby"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

James Joyce's short story "Araby" reads much like a coming-of-age story until the resolution, because rather than acquiring maturity with a satisfying realization, the protagonist's new knowledge brings him disappointment and feelings of failure to achieve fulfillment.

During the rising action of the story, the protagonist finally finds the opportunity to speak to Mangan's sister, who asks him if he is going to Araby. Eager to accompany her, the protagonist asks her if she plans to go, but she has a religious retreat to attend. Disappointed, he promises to bring her something.

After this conversation, the protagonist can think of nothing else but the bazaar; he is distracted in school and at night the girl's image haunts his mind. Having asked his aunt permission to go, he reminds his uncle on Saturday that he wishes to travel to the bazaar so the man will give him some money. "Yes, boy, I know," the uncle answers sharply as he searches vainly for a hat-brush. Later, when the protagonist comes home to dinner, his uncle is not there. As he waits for his uncle's return, the protagonist occupies himself by watching out his bedroom window. When he comes downstairs, it is an hour after the meal has been prepared, and the uncle is still not home.

Finally, at nine o'clock the uncle is heard entering. The protagonist listens to him and "understands the signs" of his having been at the pub. He has forgotten that his nephew wants to go to the bazaar, and he tells the boy it is too late, but his aunt urges her husband to give him the money and let him go anyway. The uncle hands his nephew some money, and the protagonist rushes to the station. However, the train is delayed and by the time he arrives at the bazaar, it is almost ten o'clock. 

The story reaches its climax as the protagonist excitedly sees the "magical name" on the building.

The falling action takes place as he enters only to discover that many of the booths are closed. Then he overhears two shop girls' prattle about mundane things. "I remarked their English accents and listened vaguely to their conversation." After asking if he wants anything and the reply being negative, the girl returns to the other girl and the two young men with whom they have engaged in local gossip. 

Then, the protagonist turns away and walks down the middle of the place without having bought anything, disillusioned by the falsity of what was supposed to have been an exotic bazaar. As he departs, he lets his "two pennies...fall against the sixpence" into the pocket of his pants in his disappointment. 

The resolution occurs when the lights of the building are all off and the protagonist stands in the deepening darkness as he reaches his epiphany:

I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

The protagonist has made a transition from his idealistic and immature dreams to the reality of adulthood.

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Concerning Joyce's "Araby," I suggest that the climax of the story occurs when the boy, the narrator, decides not to buy a gift for Magnan's sister at the bazaar.

The young boy confuses secular and religious issues and confuses Magnan's sister with the Virgin Mary.  She is purity and holiness and he is obsessed with her.  But when he arrives at the bazaar, its appearance, the trivial conversation he hears, and, possibly, the commercial nature of the bazaar lead him to an epiphany.  He realizes that the conversation he had with Magnan's sister, during which he promises to buy her a gift at Araby, was just as trivial and was just as much small talk as the conversation he overhears.  And he realizes that the girl is just a girl. 

Therefore, everything leading up to the climax is the rising action, and everything that follows it is the resolution, including his "announcement" of his epiphany.