What is the significance of Araby in the story of the same name by James Joyce?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Araby is significant because it is representative of how the things we hope and dream of are so often inconsistent with stark realities.

In the story, Araby is a bazaar with an exotic theme, brought to Dublin through church sponsorship.  It is the source of much anticipation for the unnamed young protagonist of the story - he has promised to go there and bring back a gift for a girl on whom he has a crush.  Thoughts of the Araby consume all others in his mind in the days leading up to its opening.  When he finally does get to Araby, however, the boy finds that the reality of the bazaar does not come close to being the amazing place he has built it up to be in his imagination.  He leaves without getting what he has come for, disappointed, embarrassed, and angry.

Araby has symbolic connotations as well.  It is representative of the Eastern world, which to the young Irish boy is exotic and filled with promise of adventure and riches.  It may also be a symbol of commercialism's false allure, since the bazaar, after all, is nothing more than a fundraiser for the church.