James Joyce's short story "Araby" chronicles a little boy's attempt to impress a neighborhood girl, called Mangan's sister, by traveling to a local bazaar called Araby and buying her a gift. The boy (who, curiously enough, is never actually given a name), is fascinated by the exotic, as he's grown up reading books in the library of his home (a selection of tomes that includes a historical romance) and is prone to romanticizing women, a fact evidenced by his obsession with Mangan's sister.
The word and title "Araby" is an important reference to this overarching theme of the exotic. Joyce says, "the syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me," and so we can see that the word suggests a stereotypical vision of the "exotic Orient." Indeed, the word "Araby" itself seems to be fashioned in part by the words "Arab" or "Arabic." As such, the title "Araby" is significant because it signifies the author's childish preoccupation with an imagined, exotic realm that may exist in romantic fiction, but that does not actually exist in real life. Much of the story focuses on the narrator's discovery of this fact, and his realization that his fascination with the "exotic" has been nothing more than a boyhood fantasy.