Where does the plot of James Joyce's short story "Araby" take place?
James Joyce’s short story titled “Araby” is set in Dublin, the capital of Ireland. This is one of the reasons the story appeared in a collection of similar stories by Joyce titled Dubliners. The story opens by noting that
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 storeys 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.
North Richmond Street, in other words, is a “dead-end” street (a fact that symbolizes the speaker’s sense of the limitations he faces in life). The street is where the narrator lived, but it also houses the school attended by the narrator of the story when the narrator was young. Yet the main focus of the story is on a different kind of education, as the narrator recalls his youthful infatuation with a young woman known as “Mangan’s sister” and his later disappointment when he tries to buy her a gift at the "Araby" bazaar.
The school mentioned in the story still exists and still is located in North Richmond Street. A search on “Google Images” for “North Richmond Street Dublin” will pull up many interesting photographs, including images not only of the school but of the kinds of houses the story describes. One of the images, linked below, actually provides a map of all the key locations in the tale. That map also charts the boy’s route to the Araby bazaar, both by foot and by rail.
Joyce sets his tale in the city he knows best, partly to make his descriptions seem credible and realistic. Yet the events the story describes and the feelings it both depicts and evokes are universal and do not require a detailed knowledge of Dublin in order to be felt and appreciated.