What is the significance of place to character in “Araby”

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You might like to think about the way in which the setting in this excellent story parallels the experience of its central characters, in particular in the way that their lives are shown to be limited and without too many opportunities. This is something that is introduced in the setting in the very first paragraph of the story:

North Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers' School set the boys free. An uninhabited house of two stories stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbours in a square ground. The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces.

Note the way in which the street where the narrator lives is described as "blind," cut off and also detached from the rest of the houses. There is a sense in which this could be a metaphor for the lives of the characters. Again and again characters are shown to live narrow and restricted lives, that are "blind" in a similar way to this house, through the tedious routines that they must adhere to and parental and religious constrictions. Again and again the setting reinforces the way in which money and opportunities are profoundly limited.