What is the significance and importance of the quote, "Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger"?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This final line of the short story lets us know that the narrator understands that, no matter how important his desires are to him, the world will not change for him or make way for his goals. The "vanity" refers to the narrator's belief that things will somehow work out for him, that his dream of loving Mangan's sister can come true: first, that his uncle will come home in time and remember to give him money to go to Araby, then, that the trains will be running on time, that the bazaar will be full of extravagant and desired trinkets and that he will be able to choose and afford one that will help him to win the affections of his love. When he realizes that these expectations were vain (both in the sense that they came to nothing and were also self-important), he is provoked to intense sorrow and anger. His uncle forgot him, came home late, and then delayed him by eating dinner and asking questions; the train was held up and only after "an intolerable delay" did it "cre[ep] onward"; then, when the narrator gets to Araby, it costs a lot of his money just to get in and the majority of the stalls are closed. The one that is open has only tea cups and vases, nothing extraordinary or exotic at all, and the girl working there has no real interest in helping him.  He hears the clanking of coins and witnesses her flirtation with the young men as all of the lights go out in the hall. His hope is lost, and he realizes that his small desires are unimportant, that he is unimportant. And he cries.