What are some biblical allusions and their connections in James Joyce's "Araby"?

Expert Answers info

Denis Lubowitz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write713 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and Social Sciences

To add to the previous post, Joyce describes a garden with an apple tree at its center.  This is where the children--including the narrator--play.  This reference ties in nicely to the Garden of Eden idea and the loss of paradise.  The narrator in "Araby" loses his innocence through his knowledge that there is no true escape from Dublin--not through a crush, not through a bazaar.  He is doomed to the morbid mortality of those that live in those "imperturbable" houses.  The narrator begins the story a child oblivious to the drabness of his environment, but he ends fully aware of his vanity in thinking he can escape it.

Another religious image used in the story is the chalice, or grail.  The narrator's image of Mangan's sister is held like a chalice as he moves through the market place. His obsession with her is described as a religious experience.In fact, he even presses his palms together in semblance of  prayer when he thinks of her, crying "O love." In this way, the narrator becomes a knight searching for a mystical object (the gift for Mangan's sister) that will transport him to heaven(her becoming enamored with him).   Of course, he does not find that grail.  When he goes to Araby, he realizes that the bazaar is just more of the same--the same darkness that shrouds Dublin.  He cannot find the perfect gift for Mangan's sister, and he knows that his hopes of attaining her are vain.

It might also be noted that Mangan's sister cannot go to Araby because she has a retreat at the convent.  It seems that Mangan's sister is in training to be a nun, making the narrator's infatuation with her truly a dead end.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write5,918 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

Joyce's "Araby" opens with Biblical allusions. A literary allusion is a device whereby the writer conveys a great deal of information in very few words, usually through the imagery of very few words, that call up cultural recollection of commonly know facts, legends, stories, myths, histories, etc. A Biblical allusion is an allusion that refers to Biblical stories, characters, theologies, doctrines or religious persons, groups, concepts, locations, etc.

In one instance, the opening of "Araby" alludes to religious concepts of celibacy by having former tenant of the house be a Catholic priest, indicative of the narrator's plight regarding his love for Magan. It also alludes to the value of religious literary works by classing a...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 836 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write1,918 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write2,654 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

check Approved by eNotes Editorial