Why is Mangan's sister always by the railing?
does the railing represent something in particular? I read somewhere that the railing represents the church, so it indicates that the narrator sees her as the Virgin Mary, but i dont see how they could come to the conclusion of her being virgin mary out of that.
I suppose in order to answer the question one needs to know a little backgound about Joyce and about the vision he had for the collection of short stories"Dubliners". Joyce himself was educated by the Jesuit priests in Belvedere College. The Catholic Church in Ireland had huge influence. Joyce felt that this contributed to the "stasis" which affected Ireland.
In the collection "Dubliners" nothing is there by chance, Joyce gives us an enormous amount of subtle clues and hints which inofrm the work as a whole. Thestory begins with the words "North Richmond Street, being blind....". This sets the tone for descriptions of the unenlightened polulace of Dublin.The story's solipsism and insularity is figured by the opening topography of North Richmond Street as "blind," as a cul de sac and dead end from which escape is baffled..
The early stories are stories which investigate youth and have distinct covert and overt portrayals of the power of religion and the discovery of sexual feelings. Things are in a state of paralysis, Joyce contends. The church and its repressive teachings have no small part to play in this.
Araby is one of the stories of youth.It deals with broken dreams and broken promises and the young characters failure to impress his beloved. Churches are present in many of the stories in the collection. The church was often a social outing, or its railings a meeting place. Several ideas of Mangan's sister could be taken from this...she could be particularly devout, attending evening prayer but in some way excluded because she is outside the railings. She could be waiting for someone she meets regularly (perhaps for romance or sex) in which case the church railing sould be inappropriate and serve to highlight her lack of morality and lack of sense of what is "proper".
Myself, I think it is Joyce having another poke at the Catholic Church. The fact that she is outside, excluded may be worth thinking about. Mangan’s sister is unable to attend the bazaar called “Araby”because she is required to attend a school retreat possibly scheduled to pre-empt and suppress sexual feeling in pubescent girls. Does the girl, whose silver bracelet betokens small vanities, resent ("It's well for you, she said" ) the Church displacing her dreams and scenes of romantic opulence and exotic splendour with impending puritanical strictures and punitive threats. I think this is what the railings represent, another type of prison.