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Araby” is set in Dublin, Ireland in various places around the city.

At the onset of the story, the boy is on the street where he lives, North Richmond Street. He frequently meets his friends and they play in the street until dusk falls and they go home for dinner. It is there, in the shadows, that he watches Mangan’s sister as she looks for her brother to call him home.

The setting switches to inside the narrator’s house, where he watches every morning for Mangan’s sister to leave her house. Her stepping outside cues him to grab his books and follow her; he does not have the nerve to speak to her, so he passes her on the street instead.

The narrator tells of Saturday evenings when he walks through the market with his aunt and dreams of the girl. Eventually, she speaks to him to find out if he will go to Araby, and he promises to bring her a present from the bazaar. He continues to dream of her at night in his room and during the day in his classroom, where he is unable to concentrate. Araby becomes important to him because he convinces himself that she might like him if he buys her a gift.

On the night of the bazaar, the boy waits impatiently for his uncle to come home; the sooner they eat dinner, the sooner he can go. However, it’s after 9:00 by the time his uncle returns, and the boy angrily paces the room waiting. Next, the boy walks down Buckingham Street to the train which will take him to his dream.

The story ends at the bazaar, the one place that the narrator has yearned to visit. This setting is important to the story because it is where the narrator’s epiphany takes place. Most of the stalls have closed and darkness envelops the bazaar. Of the few stalls that remain open, there is little that he might purchase as a gift for Mangan’s sister. The boy now believes that he will never have a chance with the girl because he has no opportunity to buy her a present. The truth is, he never had a chance with her. He learns that situations do not always work out the way we dream, noting, “I knew my stay was useless.”

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The setting of the novel is Dublin, Ireland. The important point to keep in mind about this setting is that we are seeing it subjectively: it is highly colored by the young narrator's emotions.

The narrator feels trapped in Dublin and longs for the opportunity to escape to more a poetic and idealized location. Dublin seems brown, drab, dull, and colorless to him as he enters early adolescence. He describes, for example, the house he lives in as bleak and depressing. The home was formerly occupied by a priest, and has "musty" air, with "useless" papers lying around along with books from the last century, one with "yellowed leaves." A rusty tire pump lies abandoned in the back yard, adding to the air of desolation.

The boy seeks escape from this setting in dreams about Mangan's older sister, who he has a developed a crush on (although he has hardly spoken to her). When she tells of her desire to attend a bazaar called Araby, this magically named event merges or conflates with the girl as an object of desire. He neglects his schoolwork, finding it dull in comparison to his dreams.

But as the story shows, the setting of Araby is no less dreary than the rest of Dublin when he arrives to the bazaar late—"Nearly all the stalls were closed and the greater part of the hall was in darkness"—so the boy ends the story anguished and angry at himself for believing it would be more exotic.

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The setting of "Araby" is Dublin, capital city of Ireland and hometown of James Joyce. The unnamed narrator lives in a place called North Richmond Street, which is described as "blind." We get a sense of Joyce is referring to as blindness in his description of this respectable but bland part of town. The street is closed off from the wider world, both geographically and culturally. This is a place where nothing much ever happens except for when school is out for the day.

Though outwardly respectable, the boy's family could be described as shabby genteel, that is to say they have come down in the world. One suspects that their relative poverty has forced them to lead an itinerant lifestyle, constantly moving from one rented place to another. It's small wonder, then, that the boy should feel the need to escape from such a chronically unstable existence, that he craves the kind of excitement that only the Araby bazaar promises to give. The boy, like the pupils of the Christian Brothers' school on the street where he lives, wants to be set free, if only for a short time. He wants to leave behind him the stifling, constricting world in which he's forced to live out his formative years.

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When the story opens, the narrator describes the street where he lives, namely, North Richmond Street, which is a now well-known road in Dublin, Ireland.  The narrator also references the Christian Brothers' School, which opened in 1829 on North Richmond Street.  This detail helps to confirm that we are in Dublin, Ireland's capital city.  The story appears in James Joyce's collection called The Dubliners, which was published in 1914. However, the story itself was written around 1905 (and this is when it seems to take place).  

The story is written in a first person objective point of view, meaning that the narrator is a participant in the story's events and is narrating them after the events of the story have taken place.  He uses past tense verbs to tell this story of his childhood love and disappointment and to describe how he came to a more accurate understanding of his place in the world.

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This is the third story in the Dubliners collection and the final one in the group of stories that are concerned with childhood. It was written in October 1905, and it was the 11th story that Joyce wrote for the collection. The story takes place in Dublin, Ireland, at the beginning of the 20th century. Dublin at the time was seen by Joyce as the place of spiritual paralysis, where aspirations and dreams died:

My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis.

The story begins with a vivid description of the street where the narrator lived as a boy:

North Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street…an uninhabited house of two storeys stood at the blind end…the other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces.

The exterior evokes the images of suffocation and restriction in which the protagonist dwells. The text continues to focus on an atmosphere of waste and abandonment, as the former tenant of the house, a priest, has died in the house’s back drawing-room. Readers understand that the protagonist has to grapple with living in such stifling conditions.

The last part of the story takes place at “Araby,” a fair that comes to Dublin. The narrator’s idealized vision of the bazaar, which previously “cast an Eastern enchantment” over him, is completely obliterated. “Eastern enchantment” is replaced by the image of emptiness and a feeling of silence. The narrator realizes that there is nothing exotic and oriental about the bazaar and that it cannot make Dublin a more appealing place to live in.

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